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Full text of "Music lyrics and commerce : hearings before the Subcommittee on Commerce, Comsumer Protection, and Competitiveness of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, February 11 and May 5, 1994"

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4, EN 2/3; 103-1 12 


sic Lyrics and Connerce* Serial H. . . 











FEBRUARY 11 and MAY 5, 1994 

Serial No. 103-112 

Printed for the use of the Committee on Energy and Commerce 

82-668CC WASHINGTON : 1994 

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office 
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402 
ISBN 0-16-044889-1 



4. EN 2/3:103-112 

sic Lyrics and Connerce, Serial H. . . ^JA-ll^l ^JTO 











FEBRUARY 11 and MAY 5, 1994 

Serial No. 103-112 

Printed for the use of the Committee on Energy and Commerce 


82-668CC WASHINGTON : 1994 

For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office 
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402 
ISBN 0-16-04A889-1 


DINGELL, Michigan, Chairman 


THOMAS J. BLILEY, Jr., Virginia 






ALEX McMillan, North CaroUna 


FRED UPTON, Michigan 




SCOTT KLUG, Wisconsin 

GARY A. FRANKS, Connecticut 

JAMES C. GREENWOOD, Pennsylvania 



HENRY A. WAXMAN, Cahfornia 


EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts 

AL SWIFT, Washington 


MIKE SYNAR, Oklahoma 

W.J. "BILLY" TAUZIN, Louisiana 

RON WYDEN, Oregon 






JIM COOPER, Tennessee 

J. ROY ROWLAND, Georgia 



GERRY E. STUDDS, Massachusetts 

RICHARD H. LEHMAN, California 

FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey 


LYNN SCHENK, California 


MIKE KREIDLER, Washington 



Alan J. Roth, Staff Director and Chief Counsel 

Dennis B. Fitzgibbons, Deputy Staff Director 

Margaret A. Durbin, Minority Chief Counsel and Staff Director 

Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Competitiveness 

CARDISS COLLINS, Illinois, Chairwoman 






FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey (Ex Officio) 

JOHN D. DINGELL, Michigan 
(Ex Officio) '. 

-- -■ David Schooler, Staff Director / Chief Counsel 

Angela Jackson, Counsel 
Eddie T. Arnold, Special Assistant 
'*- Douglas F. Bennett, Minority Counsel 

Mary-Moore Hamrick, Minority Counsel 




Hearings held on: 

February 11, 1994 1 

May 5, 1994 73 

Testimony of: 

Barrow, Andrea, co-host, In The Mix, WNYC TV, New York City 86 

Coleman, Marvin J., outreach coordinator. In The Mix, WNYC TV, New 

York City 76 

ComeUus, Don, president, Don Cornelius Productions, Inc., Los Angeles 

CA 19 

Eley, Paris, senior vice president, Motown Records 128 

Evans, Fred S., principal, Gaithersburg (MD) High School 141 

George, Nelson, journalist 34 

Glickson, Melanie, co-host. In The Mix, WNYC TV, New York City 84 

Harleston, David, president, Rush Associated Labels 38 

KeUey, Robin D.G., professor of history and Afiican American studies. 

University of Michigan 143 

Madison, Joseph E., syndicated talk show host, TPT News, Inc., Washing- 
ton. DC 24 

Riley, Tammy W., artist manager. Flavor Unit Management, Jersey City, 

NJ 143 

Rose, Tricia, assistant professor of history and Africana studies, New 

York City University 145 

Rosen, Hilary, president, Recording Industry Association of America 129 

Singleton, Ernie, president, Black Music Division, MCA Records 36 

Tucker, C. DeLores, chair. National Political Congress of Black Women ... 4 
Waters, Maxine, a Representative in Congress from the State of Califor- 
nia 63 

Whitaker, Yolanda "Yo Yo", recording artist. East West Records 40 

Material submitted for the record by: 

Lipsitz, George: Statement 152 

Warwick, Dionne: Statement 70 




House of Representatives, 
Committee on Energy and Commerce, 
Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, 

AND Competitiveness, 

Washington, DC. 

The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room 
2123, Raybum House Office Building, Hon. Cardiss Collins (chair- 
woman) presiding. 

Mrs. Collins. This hearing of the Energy and Commerce Sub- 
committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Competitive- 
ness will come to order. 

Our first panel today will consist of Dr. C. DeLores Tucker, who 
is the chair of the National Political Congress of Black Women. We 
had invited the Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, IH, pastor of the Ab- 
yssinian Baptist Church, but I understand he will be unable to at- 

We have Mr. Don Cornelius, president of Don Cornelius Produc- 
tions, Inc., Los Angeles, California; and we believe that Mr. Joseph 
E. Madison, syndicated talk show host of TPT News, Inc., is on his 

Won't you come forward, please. 

We are going to begin with you. Dr. Tucker. Let me say that the 
subcommittee operates under a 5-minute rule. I think all of you 
should be aware of the fact that you are given approximately 5 
minutes to give your oral statement, with the full knowledge that 
your entire statement will be made a part of the record. 

Let me say this — prior to that time, we will have our opening 
statements. The testimony rules are that each panelist is given 5 
minutes in which to give an oral statement, which should really be 
a summary of the full written statement. After that period of time, 
the question-and-answer session begins. Anything you may not 
have been able to say on the record at the time of your oral state- 
ment may still become a part of the record because some things 
you might have wanted to say may come out during the question- 
and-answer period. 

Good morning and welcome to today's hearing, which will be the 
first in a series of hearings on the production, sale and distribution 
in interstate commerce of music which contains sexually explicit, 
violent and misogynistic lyrics. I am not here to legislate morality, 
but I do believe that this series of hearings will raise the moral 
consciousness of the country. 


Parents and others have been questioning music lyrics for ages. 
In fact, when I was 7 or 8 years old, I remember my grandmother 
calling me an infidel because I was singing the lyrics of a Bessie 
Smith song called "In the Dark." I didn't have any idea what those 
lyrics meant, but I happened to have liked the music, so I was 
singing it. 

During the 1950's, I remember a song called "Work with Me, 
Annie", by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, which was changed 
to "Dance With Me, Annie", because the title was considered too 

And of course, who can forget "Louie, Louie", banned because of 
its alleged vulgarity. 

Now, things are more serious. Rock and gangsta rap lyrics are 
facing increasing scrutiny as concerned people and young people 
themselves question the extent to which a whole generation of chil- 
dren are being exposed to music that degrades women and pro- 
motes violence and other antisocial behavior. 

Some women are concerned about the extent to which the artists' 
rights under the First Amendment are affecting their rights not to 
be sexually harassed. In fact, the National Political Congress of 
Black Women, Inc., requested these hearings. 

Legislation to curtail the accessibility that minors have to music 
with so-called "obscene or erotic lyrics" has been introduced in over 
20 States. In 1987, the State of California brought the first "por- 
nography rock" case when a parent complained to authorities that 
her 14-year-old daughter gave her 11-year-old son a copy of the 
Dead Kennedy's album that contained graphic depictions of various 
sexual acts. 

More recently, 2 Live Crew's album was the first recording de- 
clared obscene by a U.S. District Court. This was later overturned 
by the Court of Appeals. It is my understanding that some of to- 
day's recording artists such as Flava Flav, Tupac Shakur and 
Snoop Doggy Dogg have found themselves in legal trouble for en- 
gaging in the behavior about which they sing. 

Many of you here probably remember the Senate Commerce 
Committee's 1985 hearings on rock music lyrics. Frank Zappa, Dee 
Snider of Twisted Sister, and John Denver testified. Those hearings 
brought unprecedented attention to and documented the morally 
offensive, sexually explicit and satanic lyrics of rock music. 

Today, we will explore the morally offensive, sexually explicit, 
violent and misogynist l3rrics of gangsta rap. Parents, teenagers 
and other concerned citizens are outraged about the references to 
women — particularly Afro-American women — in profane, deroga- 
tory and foul language. They are concerned about the gratuitous vi- 
olence — ^which typically shows people as perpetrators of violence 
against women and otners. They are concerned about the sexually 
explicit and graphic language. 

The National Political Congress of Black Women, Inc. and others 
have picketed local retailers and gathered signatures for petitions 
to be submitted to the recording companies. Some radio and tele- 
vision stations have decided not to play this music and some retail- 
ers will not sell these recordings to minors. 

People are complaining, yet no one in the industry seems to be 
listening and taking the complaints seriously. 

Congress is listening. 

Make no mistake, hip hop and rap are very important forms of 
music. We can't forget that this music has given a voice to a large 
number of young people. It has greatly increased the number of 
young Americans working in the recording industry. Hip hop and 
rap music generally are not the focus today. At issue today is that 
subcategory of rap called gangsta rap. 

No one is arguing that recording artists should not express their 
views concerning the world around them. However, when an end- 
less stream of negative images reaches your children, there is a se- 
rious problem. 

It has been reported that some artists find it necessary to resort 
to vulgarity and sexually explicit lyrics in order to obtain contracts 
with recording companies. When positive rappers cannot get re- 
cording contracts unless they become gangsta rappers, there is a 
very serious problem. 

When there is more emphasis on making money from negative, 
degrading and demeaning images than presenting the positive mes- 
sages that rappers want to send, there is, again, a serious problem. 

As a response to the 1985 rock lyrics controversy, the recording 
companies started voluntarily labeling some of the explicit record- 
ings. This was an important, commendable step. Yet, I cannot help 
but point out the fact that 9 years after Senate hearings, policy- 
makers are being forced to revisit the issue of negative lyrics be- 
cause citizens are incensed, and it is clear that more needs to be 

While we must ensure that all citizens are free to exercise their 
First Amendment rights, we must also remember that the govern- 
ment has legitimate interests in protecting its youngest citizens. 
Policymakers take this responsibility very seriously. Currently, 
Congress has been investigating the access that children have to 
television violence and video game violence. Many States prohibit 
the sale of pornographic magazines to children and the Federal 
Communications Commission can require that television and radio 
programs that contain indecent speech be regulated for broadcast 
during hours when children are unlikely to be listening to the me- 

I invite the recording industry to enter into a dialogue with this 
subcommittee and other citizens about voluntary measures that 
can be taken to ensure that both First Amendment rights are pro- 
tected and children are protected from music that may not be ap- 
propriate for certain age groups. I encourage the industry to exer- 
cise greater responsibility in this area. 

In future hearings, the subcommittee will investigate the effects 
of negative music lyrics on children and the views of the retailers 
and broadcasters that disseminate this music. The subcommittee 
will also hear testimony from the young people that listen to this 
music. I am so committed to hearing from the young people, that 
I have invited students from local high schools to attend this hear- 
ing. I have a teen adviser sitting right behind me, giving me feed- 
back on the issues surrounding this debate. His name is Thaddeus 
E. Arnold. 

I applaud the concerned citizens here today for bringing this 
issue to national attention, and I commend them for having the 

foresight to see the continuous flow of demeaning negative images 
distributed to young people as a problem worthy of attack. 

I want to assure the industry that the purpose of these hearings 
is not to bash the recording industry. As many of you know, I intro- 
duced and successfully moved the Audio Home Recording Act, 
which became law last Congress. I will continue to support the in- 
dustry when it is warranted, but I must also speak out about the 
industry when that too is warranted. 

[The prepared statement of Hon. Cliff Steams follows:] 

Statement of Hon. Cuff Stearns 

Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. I commend you for holding this hearing. Like 
many others here today, I am deeply troubled by the music lyrics which all ttw often 
seem to advocate violence and sexual abuse. 

I have a strong and abiding faith in the Constitution of the United States, and 
I believe deeply in the First Amendment. But as Oliver Wendell Holmes said 70 
years ago, "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man 
falsely snouting 'fire' in a crowded theater thereby causing panic." 

As I read lyrics from many popular songs and see the violence and perversion in 
much of our society today, I can t help but wonder if the words and images in the 
popular media aren't contributing to the moral erosion of our communities. 

I had the opportunity yesterday to visit with representatives of the recording in- 
dustry, most of whom are here today. They told me that because the Is^rics in much 
of todia/s "gangsta rap" reflect the realities of the inner city, blaming the rappers 
and producers is like shooting the messenger while ignoring the message. But 
music, as we all know, is a powerful medium, and when used to advocate me deg- 
radation of women or the murder of police officers, those who write and produce 
such music must acknowledge that the medium, to some degree, becomes the mes- 

Madam Chairwoman, I do not know what we in Congress can do to address this 
problem. In Florida, we have actively sought to prosecute those who distribute ob- 
scene music, just as we have with tnose who distribute pornography to our youth. 
The courts overturned the verdict in the "2 Live Crew" obscenity case, yet many feel 
something must be done to stop the production of violent, misogynistic material, and 
they feel this way whether it's music or film or printed material. 

Artists must have the right to produce freely and without fear of censorship. But 
we as a people must also have the right to protect ourselves and our children fi*om 
material that is obscene, brutal, and nihilistic. Perhaps we can begin a dialogue 
today to help us produce a solution to this seemingly intractable problem. I hope 
so, and I Iook forward to hearing fi"om our witnesses. 

Thank you. Madam Chairwoman. 

Mrs. Collins. I want to thank all of the witnesses who are ap- 
pearing, and I look forward to hearing vour testimony today. 
We will now begin with you, Dr. Tucker. 


Ms. Tucker. Thank you very much. 

The Honorable Cardiss Collins and members of the Subcommit- 
tee on Commerce Consumer Protection and Competitiveness, I 
thank you for the opportunity to testify and to raise my concerns 
for the welfare of the young people of this Nation. I speak as the 
chair of the National Political Congress of Black Women, a non- 
profit, nonpartisan organization for the political and economic 
empowerment of African-American women and their families. 

As I prayerfully prepared my testimony for this important con- 
gressional hearing, which was courageously convened by Congress- 
woman Cardiss Collins, I was consumed by a penetrating thought. 

The thought was this. If Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the moral 
leader and conscience of this Nation, were alive today he would be 
leading a nationwide crusade to restore the deteriorating moral 
values of this Nation. 

Again, it would be Dr. King who would be marching and dem- 
onstrating against the glamorization of violence and its corrupting 
influence, which has now become a part of our culture in the name 
of freedom. This freedom, freedom from responsibility and account- 
ability, is not the kind of freedom that Dr. King, Medgar Evers, 
John Lewis, James Farmer, Rosa Parks and so many others risked 
their lives for. 

Indeed, Dr. King would be deeply saddened by those in our com- 
munity who abuse and misuse the freedom of speech by dehuman- 
izing, demeaning and degrading our own women. Dr. King would 
take offense to have African Americans who for decades fought 
against stereot3rpical "Amos and Andy" and "Aunt Jemima" images, 
now be the subject of public disrespect as a result of the messages 
heralded by gangsta rap. 

So, Congresswoman Collins and members of this congressional 
subcommittee, I come to you in the spirit of Dr. King and on behalf 
of millions of African American women, women who should not be 
seen as objects of disdain, but rather as grandmothers, mothers, 
sisters, aunts and daughters who demand respect and who demand 
that the human decency and dignity that is defended and protected 
for other members of Ajnerican society should not be so freely com- 
promised in our case. 

Yes, images that degrade our dignity and insult our children and 
families concern us too, as any other self-respecting member of so- 
ciety. Even if it comes out of our own mouths, the gangsta rap and 
misogynist lyrics that glorify violence and denigrate women is 
nothing more than pornographic smut. And with the release of 
Snoop Doggy Dogg's debut album, "Doggystyle", that includes the 
graphic artwork that is in the room here today that is sold with 

Because this pornographic smut is in the hands of our children, 
it coerces, influences, encourages and motivates our youth to com- 
mit violent behavior, to use drugs and abuse women through de- 
meaning sex acts. The reality of the 1990s is that the greatest fear 
in the African American community does not come from earth- 
quake, floods or fires, but from violence, the kind of violence that 
has already transformed our communities and schools into war 
zones where children are dodging bullets, instead of balls, and 
planning their own funerals. 

This explains why so many of our children are out of control and 
why we have more black males in jail than we have in college. As 
an illustration of this, let me share with you excerpts from a letter 
that I received from a prisoner in Lorton, Virginia. 

He said, "Rappers make it sound so good and look so real that 
I would drink and smoke drugs just like on the video, thinking that 
was the only way that I could be somebody. My hood girls became 
ho's and bitches. What is so bad is, they accepted it, and you know 
why? Because they put themselves in the video, too, and the guns, 
money, cars, drugs and men became reality. But look where this 
kind of thinking has gotten me — facing 25 years to life in jail." 


Enough is enough. I am here today to put the Nation on notice 
that the proliferation of violence and unacceptable sexual messages 
in our youth's music is due in large part to the avarice of the 
record industry. The record industry is now demanding in many of 
their contracts that these messages of degradation be in the music 
of the artist. The record industry is out of control. 

Something must be done to stop the financing and promoting of 
this cultural plague that is infecting the minds of our most valu- 
able asset, our children. I am sa3dng that principle must come be- 
fore profit. 

For 400 years, profit came before principle as African Americans 
bore the brunt of slave-masters' degradation. But even through the 
middle passage and the brutality of slavery the spirit of African 
American families was not broken — our sense of humanity and mo- 
rality remained intact. 

Today, however, our morality, which has been our last vestige of 
strength, is being threatened. Lyrics out of the mouths of our own 
children display no respect for African American women, and as 
such, the souls of our sisters are being destroyed, and so, too, their 

Others want to argue about the First Amendment right to free 
speech. They further argue these artists should be allowed to speak 
about their reality and the degrading conditions of the ghetto. As 
Terri Rossi of Billboard Magazine observed in her article in that 
magazine, that would allow to us pound defeat into America's psy- 
che and meanwhile do nothing to alleviate the degrading condi- 

As I see it, there are three things that prevent gangsta rap from 
being a freedom of speech issue. Number one, it is obscene; number 
two, it is obscene; and number three, it is oljscene. In my view, it 
was never intended by the Founding Fathers of this Nation that 
First Amendment rights be for the protection of obscenities. Con- 
sistent with this, in 1992, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that 
it was more important to ban speech that is dehumanizing to 
women than to protect free speech. 

Obscenity has long been an exception to free speech. If the filth 
that is depicted in the cartoon displayed in front of you is not ob- 
scene, then I submit that nothing is obscene. 

I am personally aware of one little girl, a fifth grader at St. 
Augustine's Catholic school here in Washington, DC, who walked 
into a record store and purchased the Snoop Doggy Dogg CD which 
contains the pornographic artwork displayed before you on the 
easel. In fact, her principal is here in the audience. It is appalling 
that a child can walk into a record store and purchase this kind 
of smut, which includes an 800 number that can be called 24 hours 
a day for ordering Snoop Doggy Dogg pornographic merchandise. 

No one — I say it again, no one has the right to poison our chil- 
dren's minds and poison their values. That is why NPCBW and our 
supporters, which number 8 million people from all the organiza- 
tions it is endorses, will continue to demonstrate and do whatever 
is iiDcessary to prevent this cultural garbage from being sold to our 

In closing, I wish to quote from an extraordinary and historic 
editorial published by Billboard Magazine, a whole page. This is 

the Bible of the industry. It said this: "No one form of popular 
music is important enough to justify or excuse racism, sexual big- 
otry and the endorsement of sociopathic violence. Such leads to the 
death of the conscience, corruption of the spirit, and will ultimately 
destroy the individual and the community." 

Finally, no one and no industry should be allowed to continue 
this social and psychological genocide of the women and the young 
minds of this Nation. So I say to you again, the record industry is 
out of control. And if it has to be regulated, so be it. 

Thank you very much. 

Mrs. Collins. Your time has expired. We are having trouble 
with the lights up here. We are going to use this clock, so when 
the bell goes off it means the time has expired. Of course, you may 
finish your sentence or thought but we want to be fair to everyone. 

[Testimony resumes on p. 19.] 

[The attachments to the prepared statement of Ms. Tucker fol- 



«00 New Bampshin Atuuk, N.W. * Suite 1125 * V/ttbiofOm, D.C 20037 • (202) 13S-0800 • Fax a02) 625-0499 






BoK. C Dtlam Tucktr 

BoK. Shiritj Oiu/ioU* 

Jtrr. WmU Banmr 

Dihonh Lmii 

Nicatt Ucfhinom 

RtT. Donikj J, louj 

TaJiija K. f/joAama 


lUr. Oloiia E. UiBtr 

J/oiinc Btlhtl Cadt, Ejq. 


CEiuia AnJmom 

Cmbtriy BtO 

CjnUiia Booth 

Virion Carer 

Cjnilm Dowia 

Giraldiiu R. Eun, Etq. 

Qutta ClaJJtm 

DoiatBa Jama 

Trish Uorris-Tamba 
Bout Obtj 
CwtnJoljn Patton 
JohiuUt Fict 
Anniat Rainwaur 
Barham W. SJdiuur 
Hon. MabU Thomai 
Treat E. Thomas, Esq. 
Onah WeUan 
Jeriene Worthy 

So if yon at a show in the firont row 
Fm a caD you a bitch or a dirty-ass ho 
You probably get mad like bitch is supposed to 
... So what about the bitch who got shot? 

F her 

You think I give a damn about a bitch ... 

■anricMOiriUCM^itaa.* N.WJL 

Bitch I just wanna f yon and cut 

Treat ya like a trammpy slut. 

Her body's beantifiil so Fm thinkin' rape 
ShouMn't have had her curtains open so that's ha 
fate ... 
Slit her throat and watched her shake 

THiiiliifilMiili' TbcCctoBa)* 

Cause we're like the outlaws stridin' whfle suckers are 
hidin'.. Jump behind the bush when you see me drivin' byt 
Hanging out the window with my magnum taking out some 
putos. Acting kind of loco, Fm just another local kid 
From the street gating paid for my vocals. 

*Haw I Coold JiM m A Ha* Qfrai^ 


Melba Moore 

Internationally Acclaimed Artist 

Dionne Warwick 
Internationally Acclaimed Artist 

Terri Rossi 
Entertainment Industry Executive 



4TH STORY of Level 1 printed in FULL format. . ».© 

Broadcasting Copyriglit (c) 1988 Information Access Company; ^^ 
Copyright (c) Broadcasting 1985 '' S**^ 

September 23, 1985 

SECTION: Vol. 109; Pg. 28 

LENGTH: 1830 words 


Congress all shook up over rock Ivriea 

Senate committee examines call by Parents Music Resource Center for warning 
labels on records with objectionable Ivrica; musicians and record industry 
testify tha t 

would violate First Amendment rights; some senators say there will be no 
legislation on matter, bu t 

Hollings says there should be if all else fails 

It looked more like a media event than a congressional hearing as members of 
the public 2md the print and electronic press crammed into a Senate Commerce 
Committee room last week to hear musicians Framk Zappa, Dee Snidei of Twisted 
Sister and John Denver discuss so-called pronographic rock lyrics. The 
musicians defended their right to "artistic freedom' and raised objections to 
proposals by parent groups for warning labels on records with lyrics 
containing "explicit sexual language, profanity, violence, the occult and the 
glorif icattion of drugs and alcohol . ' 

The issue was of keen interest to members of the Senate Commerce Committee 
who convened the hearing to air cooplaints of the Parents Music Resource Center, 
a group of influential Washington women {Pam Howar; Sussui Baker, wife of 
Treasury Secretary James Baker; Tipper Gore, wife of Commerce Committee member 
Albert Gore [D-Tenn.l, and Sally Nevius) . PMRC wants warning labels on 
records that are apt to offend and " Ivrica for labeled Muaic products . . . 
provided to the consumers in some form before purchase . ' The group has asked the 
recording industry to "appoint a one-time panel to recommend a uniform set of 
criteria which could serve as a policy guide for the individual coopaines.' 
BcUcer told the Senate panel that PMRC will ask MTV to label videos and to 
cluster the "harmless, safe videos for when young children are viewing. ' 

PMRC is not seeking legislation; it only wants to "educate and inform parents 
about this alairming new trend as well as to ask the industry to exercise 
self-restraint, ' Baker testified. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John 
Danforth said that the hearing had not been called to "promote any legislation.' 
He said there was "zero' chance that a bill addressing the matter would pass. 
"We're here simply to provide a forum for airing the issue. There is a concern 
that the public should be aware of the existence of this kind of music' 

But Senator Ernest Hollings (D-S.C), ranking minority member on the Commerce 
Comnittee, held emother view. "I tell you it is outrageous; we've got to do 


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Page 10 

something about it, ' Hollings said. And, he said, he was going to ask the best 
constitutional minds if there isn't soine way to legislate. Hollings later noted 
that the "First Amendment absolution does not pertain to broadcasters.' 

Senator James Bxon (D-Neb.) warned he might "join others in supporting 
regulation unless performers see fit to clean up their act.' But in the same 
breath, Bxon questioned the purpose of the hearing. "I wonder, if we're not 
talking about federal regulation or legislation, what is the reason for these 
hearings? vftiy are these media events scheduled if we're not being asked to do 
anything about it?' 

Senator Gore, present at the hearing, said: "The proposals made do not 
involve the government. What they [the PMRC) are asking for, is the music 
industry to show some self -restaurant: and come up with a voluntary guide system 
for parents. This kind of material is really very different from material that 
caused controversy in past generations . ' 

Sharing Gore's concern about the lyrics was Senator Paula Hawkins (R-Fla.), 
chairman of the Senate Subcocinitt ee on Childr en. Fa mily, nmgg anH Alcoholism, 
who also testified. HawlciHB~ glay ed_two~|jo ok-3d.deos (Twisted Sister's "Not Going \ 
To Take It' and Van Halen's "Hot foT~Teacher' ) and presented exan^les of what / 
she considered to be obscene rock album covers. ' 

Zappa's presence generated a lively discussion. "The PMRC proposal is an 
ill -conceived piece of nonsense whidi fails to deliver any real benefits to 
children, infringes the civil liberties of people who are not children emd 
promises to keep the courts busy for years, ' Zappa said. The PMRC demands arg, ^ 
the equivalent of "treating dandruff by decapitation, ' he added. "No one has 1 

forced Mrs. Baker or tlrs. Gore to bring Prince or Sheena Baston into their ■ 

hemes . ' 

Taken as a whole, Zappa continued, "the complete list of PMRC demands reads 
like an instruction manual for some sinister kind of "toilet training program' 
to housebreak all caaf>osers and performers because of the lyrics of a few. 
Ladies, how dare you. ' He also charged the PMRC with confusing the issue by 
cootparing song lyrics, videos, radio broadcasting, record packaging and live 
performances. "These axe all different mediums, and the people who work in them 
have the right to conduct their business without trade -restraining legislation, 
whipped up like an instant pudding tiy the wives of Big Brother. ' 

Zappa provoked a sartorial responee . "I found your statement to be "boorish, 
insensitive, insulting . . . You ha'ie destroyed any credibility with this body, ' 
Senator Slade Gorton (R-Wash.) told Zappa. 

Zappa did, however, favor placing a copy of the lyrics in albums, as long as 
■there's a way to pay for it.' He suggested that the government print the sheets 
*to oiake sure consumers have the information. ' He remained staunchly opposed to 
warning labels. 

But the PMRC maintained that parents need to know what is on the records . 
"Today, parents have no way of knowing the content of the music products their 
children are buying, ' Baker said. "While some album covers are sexually 
explicit or depict violence, many otliers give no clue as to the contents. ' For 
exai^le, she said that "Jungle Love,' a hit song, is on an album t:hat also 


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Broadcasting (c) 1988 lAC 

contains a song, 'If The Kid Can't Make Tou Cone, Nobody Can.' 

Further examples of explicit lyrics »ere presented by PMRC consultant Jeff 
Ling. He cited a Prince song about incest: "I was only 16, but I guess that's 
no excuse. My sister was 32, lovely and loose. My sister never made love to 
cinyone but me. Incest is everything it's said to be.' Long also mentioned a 
song by Twisted Sister, "Under the Blade. ' "Your hands are tied, your legs are 
strapped, you're going under the blade." 

But the center's interpretation of tlist song did not sit well with Twisted 
Sister's Snider. He charged the group with "character assassination' and 
spreading misinformation. Snider said that Mrs. Gore characterized the song as 
sado-masochistic. But in fact, he said, the song is about having surgery. 
Moreover, he pointed out that all Twisted Sister albums contain a copy of the 
lyrics in the record sleeves. ptarthermore , Snider rejected the claim that the 
group's song, "Not Going To Take It, ' is violent. "I am very pleased to note 
that the United Way is using a portion o£ the video on a segment on the changing 
American family, ' he said. 

Snider told the senators he does not favor exposure of children to some 
lyrics. But, he said, it is "my job as a parent to monitor what my children see 
and hear; no authority has the right to siake these judgments.' He maintained 
that looking at the cover and titles of the songs should "cover all the bases.' 
Snider was grilled by Senator Gore. "What does the name of your fan club, SMFFTS 
stand for?' the senator asked. "Sick motJier fucking fans of Twisted Sister,' 
Snider said. "Is that a Christian club.' Gore asked Snider, who earlier called 
himself a Christian. "I don't know what Christianity has to do with prof ami ty, ' 
Snider replied. 

"I strongly oppose censorship of any kind, ' Denver said. Like Snider and 
Zappa, Denver was opposed to putting wminq labels on records. "I am opposed 
to a rating system, voluntaury or otherwise, ' he said. Instead, Denver advocated 
self-restraint within the broadcast and recording industries. He noted there is 
always going to be misinterpretation of lyrics. He sa i d his song, "Rocky 
Mountai n High, ' wa s bcu uied o n many radio stations because_it_jra8_incorrectly 
"viewed as being about drugs. 

"I'd like to acknowledge the PMRC for bringing this to our attention, ' Denver 
said. But he felt the issue should be dealt with by parents' 'exercising 
influence over their children.' But Danforth disagreed with Denver's charge of 
censorship. "The point of the proposal is not less information; no one is 
trying to prevent rock stars from publi^ing what they want. What the mothers 
are saying is they don't have sufficient information. They don't want 
censorship, ' the Conmerce Committee chairman said. 

What concerns Denver the most about the RMRC campaign, he said, is "the whole 
presentation comes from a foundation of fear' suid quoted President Franklin 
Roosevelt: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.' Hollings responded, 
"Roosevelt didn't hear this music' 

Little criticism was directed to broadcasters during the hearing. Indeed, 
PMRC has coo^limented the National Association of Broadcasters and its response 
to the issue. NAB President Eddie Fritts sent a letter ot the recording industry 
several months ago, asking the companies to attach copies of lyrics to records 


Services of Mead Data Central. Int 


Pige 12 
Bro^culing (c) 1988 lAC 

distributed to radio stations. 

Baker noted that "most broadcasters are very responsible and don't play the 
worst offenders.' And Senator Gore praised the NAB for responding quickly to the 
concerns of the PMRC. "It reflects well on the sense of responsibility on the 
part of the industry and leadership. It's good first step.' Senator Paul Trible 
also connnended NAB's efforts. 

Fritts, in a statement before the committee, focused on NAB's activities to 
create a "higher level of sensitivity' toward the issue. He noted, however, that 
it is up to each station to "choose for itself how best to serve its community. ' 
NAB, he continued, would not intrude on any station's programing decisions. It 
is concerned about balancing the "need for voluntary restraint with a strong 
sensitibity to First Amendment concerns.' 

The Recording Industry Association of America, however, has provoked another 
reaction from the PMRC. RIAA is proposing that individual record companies 
include a "packaging insciption that will state: "Parental Guidance-K^^licit 
Lyrics.' ' But the PMRC wants one uniform standard administered by an industry 
panel. RIAA President Stanley Gortikov defended the industry's position. "We 
only ask that our proposal be given a chance to work, ' he said. 

He emphasized that most lyrics reflect postive attitudes and practices. He 
felt the PMRC has "unfairly characterized all artists and all conpanies as 
universal practioners of evil.' And, he asked, why has the group focused only on 
rock music? "What about movies? And magazine ads, prime time television, soap 
operas, books and cable programs, ' Gortikov asked. "We must not trample the 
rights of parents and other adults whose standards do not coincide with those of 
the PMRC or the National tfusic Review Council or any other group.' 

Photo: PMRC's Gore and Baker 

Photo : Snider 

Photo : Zappa 

Photo: Denver 

GRAPHIC: Illustration; Portrait; Caption: SuScUi BeiXer and Tipper Gore; Dee 
Snider; Frank Zappa; John Denver 


Congress all shook up over rock lyrics; Senate committee examines call by 
Parents Music Resource Center for warning labels on records with 
objectionable lyrics 


United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Commerce, Science eind 
Transportation, investigations; Parents Music Resource Center, social policy; 
Rock musicians, evidence; Rock imisic. investigations; Lyrics, investigations 


Zappa, Frank, evidence; Snider, Dee, evidence; Denver, John, evidence; Baker, 

Susan, evidence; Gore, Tipper, evidenceBroadcasting 


Services of Mead Data Central, liKi 


On the Beat 



Seattle's Ban on Erotic Discs 

By Richard Harrington 

WisAinfio" >'<M Suit Wtiier 

Washington Gov. Booth 
Gardner has signed a 
bill under which record 
store owners could face 
criminal charges if they sell record- 
ings with sexually explicit lyrics to 
minors. The measure, which takes 
effect June 13, adds "sound record- 
ings" to a 22-year-old state law that 
bans the sale, distribution or exhibi- 
tion of "erotic literature, videos, 
photographs and other things" to 

Gardner called the bill a "subtle 
warning shot" to the music indus- 
try, which he said has promised to 
impose self-regulation. However, 
the existing law has never been 
tested in court, the Seattle Times 
reports, and prosecutors say it b 
virtually unworkable because it 
doesn't define what community 
standards on obscenity are. 

Washington's 1969 ban on the 
sale of erotic materials to minors — 
there are similar laws in 22 states, 
which may explain why music indus- 
try organizations did not fight this 
measure with the vehemence they 
have labeling laws — requires that 
someone first complain to a local 
prosecutor, who then reviews the 
material and decides whether to 
seek a court hearing. A county 
prosecuting attorney, following no- 
tice to a dealer, distributor or ex- 
hibitor, may go to court to argue 
that certain material is "erotic." If 
the judge Gnds it so, it must be 
labeled "adults only" and may not be 
displayed or sold in a manner that 
would make it readily accessible to 
anyone younger than 18. Failure to 
comply with labeling and display 
rules subjects the dealer to con- 
tempt of court charges. Selling, dis- 
tributing or exhibiting material to a 
minor is a crime carrying fines and 
Jail time ranging from $500 and up 
to six months in jail for a first 
offense, to $5,000 and at least a 
year in jail for a third offense. 

Gardner signed the bill March 20 
despite 4,000 faxed protests that 
swamped his office after MTV pub- 
licized the phone number. The gov- 
ernor's office reported that more 
mail, calls and faxes were received 
on this issue than anything except 
for health care reform, and that 
'virtually all" of the messages were 

tarians opposed to the bill and call- 
ing it heavy-handed, vague and ca- 

In his recent Sute of the State 
Address. Gardner acknowledged 
Washington's burgeoning repuu- 
tion as a rock center, pointing out 
that he is "governor of the home 
state of Nirvana, the hottest new 
rock band in the country." Even so, 
he said last week, the expanded bill 
"gives parents some needed assis- 
tance in limiting access to certain 
types of music." 

It certainly won't affect the kind 
of music Gardner prefers. In a 1984 
political questionnaire, the gover- 
nor said his favorite song was "I'd 
Like to Teach the World to Sing (in 
Perfect Harmony)," the spinoff of 
the 1971 Coke commercial 


On the Beat 


Putting Rock in a Hard Place 

Battles Over Censorship Continue Across the Nation 

By Rjchaid Harnngton 

/ / •^ ex. Sin, and Blasphemy" sounds 
V V^^ like the title for a new album by 
"^^ a group such as Slayer, but its 
K^ subtitle gives it away: "A Guide 
to America's Censoiship Wars." Wntten by 
Marjorie Hems. he«l of the American Civil 
Liberties Union's Arts Censorship Project, 
the New Press paperback explores and 
explains the major censorship controversies 
that have erupted ia recent years. There 
are chapters on nnfity in art, theater and 
dance; government funding of the arts; fJm 
ratings; pomograp*y and obscenity laws; 
and, of course, warning labels about lyrics 
on recordings, an issue since the Recording 
Industry AssociatioD of America bowed to 
congressional and pubUc pressure in 1985 
by instituting a voluntary labeling system 
that still didn't satisfy many state legisla- 
tors, who introduced their own various bills 
around the country. 

None of the several dozen lyric labeling 
laws has been enacted, though several were 
passed by legislataes. only to be vetoed by 
more liberal goveraors (as they were twice 
in Louisiana) or ovtrtumed in court (as was 
the Washington state "erotic music' bill). 
Earlier this year, Bational and local music 
industry lobbyists persuaded members of 
the Washington House of RepresenUtives 
not to advance a new version of the "erotic 
music' legislation. 

Tipper Gore's Role 

For vears. the RIAA's main thorn was 
the Parents Music Resource Center, begun 
in 1985 by, amoag others. Tipper Gore, 
wife of then-Sen. AI Gore, and now the Vice 
Spouse. Along witk the National PTA, the 
PMRC exerted the most consistent pres- 
sure on the recordng industry to adopt and 
then refine its vokintary "parenul adviso- 
ry/explicit lyrics" warning sticker, particu- 
larly after the mucfc-publicized 1985 Senate 
hearings, which Gore later termed 'a mis- 
take (for giving) the misconception that 
there was censorsfcip involved.' 

Surprisingly, this did not become a major 
issue during last fall's presidential cam- 
paign, possibly because Tipper Ckire had 
already begun to Minimize her involvement 
with the PMRC aod because she has public- 
ly repudiated nuBdatory-labeling legisla- 
tion. She resigned from the PMRC earUer 
this year, but soae "right to rock" forces 
are still wary, pKticularly since she has 
been named as a national menUl health 
adviser. Rock (M. Censorship points out 

that according to a PMRC pamphlet, "Mu- 
sk— A Health Issue." certain kmds of mu- 
sic—notably hard rock, rap and heavy met- 
al—pose "unprecedented threats to the 
health and well being of adolescents." Suy 

The Television Front 

In an echo of those 1985 lync labeling 
hearings, network and cable television offi- 
cals were on Capitol Hill last week to 
testify before a Senate Judiciary subcom- 
mittee in relation to the TV Violence Act, 
being sponsored by Sen. Paul Simon (D-IIl.). 
Simon's bill would grant the television in- 
dnstry an antitrust exemption in order to 
wwk together to cut back on gratuitous 
depictions of violence, which some critics 
ciiarge are responsible for fueling aggres- 
sive behavior and violence in the nation's 
streets and homes. 

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) has 
proposed that TV shows be rated like mov- 
ies and that sets be e<juipped so that par- 
ents could block the reception of violent 
shows. An unprecedented meeting of broad- 
cast, cable and motion picture executives 
win address the problem in Los Angeles in 
early August. And a problem it is, Simon 
says: "^e face a choice of censorship or 
responsible voluntary conduct." 

One of those who testified Friday was 
Frank Biondi, president and CEO of Viacom 
International Inc., which owns MTV and 
VH-1, as well as Nickelodeon, Showtime 
aod the Movie Channel. Biondi noted that 
MTV reaches 57.5 million households in 
America, the majority of that audience be- 
tween 18 and 34, and split equally by 
gender. According to Biondi, MTV acquires 
aD its videos (which account for 85 percent 
of its programming) from studio labels, but 
that of the 40 or 50 videos received each 
week, many are rejected for airplay. Of 
those in which MTV has shown interest 
during the first quarter of 1993, "27 per- 
cent were rejected specifically for reasons 
having to do with violence, drug endorse- 
ment or the negative depiction of women." 
(This last may be a surprise to longtime 
viewers). Producers can then submit edited 
videos for reconsideration. 

Biondi also noted that shows like "Head- 
bangers Ball" and To! MTV Raps" are 
shown after 11 pm. "Ijecause both are 
examples of programs we feel may not be 
enjoyed by the large mainstream audience." 
Both, he might have noted, used to have 
regular afternoon slots. 


The Washinctow Post 

^•p>«n«>.M4Tl6. 1990 F7 

On the Beat 

Sticker Labeled Unsatisfactory 

By Richard Harrington 

UtOmgum Pwi Sutf Vmcf 

1 i 

ot all of the legislative cntics of 
explicit rock and rap music have 
been won over by the Recording 
Industry Association of America's 
unveiling last week of a uniform parental 
advisory label. Starting in July, the label wiU be 
atfbted to albums that might be deemed objec- 
tionable by some parents because of 1>tics 
about sex, violerce and substance abuse. 

"Are they kidding? It stinks." Missouri state 
Rep. Jean Dtxon told the Associated Press. 
"This plan doesn't even touch most of the music 
we're taEdng about" Dbcon is perceived as the 
major architect of a campaign that at one pomt 
prompted consideraton of labeling bills in 21 
states, though her own mandatory bill recently 
died in committee. IXxon cntiaad the see. 
color zs.i -mtmt -^ :'•' Rl»* ''•»!• ^ler h" 
would have mandated a bright yeOow label witti 
a laundry list of offensive subjects. 

Louiaana state Rep. Ted Haik toM the Los 
Angeles Times that he would not withdraw 
any of his three "offensive" record labeling bills 
"until I see some positive actioa My proposal 
stays until the record industry prtives that it is 
serious about regulating such material" 

The RlAA's black-and-white sticker will be 
permanently affixed to the front, tower right- 
hand comer of certain releases, under the 
ceitophane wrapper. The advisory is aimed at 
helping parents identify potentially objection- 
aole material though no specific standards 
have been set as to what constitutes e-xpiiot 
lyrKS. No monitoring or advisory panel viU be 
created to establish guidelines, and it remains 
Op to record labels and artists to decide which 
albums to sticker, and to retailers to decKle 
■whether to restrict sales of stickered albums. 
Critics of both mandatory and voluntary labels 
insist that they stigmatize controversiaJ re- 
cordings under the rubric of expbatness, mak- 
ing them targets of either retailer boycotts or 
consumer protests. This is apart from the 
issue of obscenity, whk:h has dogged grtwps 
such as 2 Live Crew, and so far the various 
music industry groups that have fought against 
mandatory labels have not been partioilarty 
eager to defend the rap group, whose "As 
Nasty as They Wanna Be' has now been 
decided obscene in counties in six states 
(Florida. Tennessee, Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana 
and Pennsylvania). 

On Trial 

In Fort Lauderdale on Monday, members of 
2 Live Crew defended their sexually explicit 
lyrics as humorous and artistic during the first 
day of a federal trial to determine whether the 
group's albuni shoukl be banned in Broward 

County, Fla. The rap group sutd Broward 
Sheriff Nick Na\-arro in Marcn after he ihrent- 
ened to arrest anyone selling the album. Na- 
varro's order was prompieo by a state court 
opinion that "As Nasty as They Wanna Be" 
bordered on the obscene. Since then, the 

Actual size labels for the LP and CD long box 
•ini apH »h# rA««<'(t* 'nd TD iew*' b^x. 

album has been pulled from record store 
shelves throughout the county. 

Band members rolled an X-rated \Tdeo 
called Teasers," called on a sex therapist to 
rcid ilcud frcm c ccllectior. 'jf "ferr-jiist por- 
nography," handed the judge a stack of raun- 
chy magazines and booKs (aO bought in 
Broward County) and spun tape of coarcs 
Eddie .Murphy and Andrew Dice Clsy. The 
group sought to show that "^iasty" is mild by 
comparison and ought to be returned to reccrtl 
store shelves. The m3:;azincs— including 
More Fun for the Wife and Naked Stranger — 
were intended :o show \i.e judge what pornog- 
raphy IS, and what it does, said 2 Uve Crew's 
attorney, AUer. Jacobi. "Nasty," he argued, 
does not appeal to "prurent r.terest." whidi is 
one of the criteria that must be met for 
banning the album. 

Greg Baker, a music writer at the New 
Times weekly newspaper in Miami described 
the IS-year development of rap music, cafiing 
it "important musk: . . . good music That is 
whv we have written about it and continue to 
write about it" Baker's testimony is critical to 
the grxmp's case, because under a 1973 Su- 
preme Court ruling, if any materia] — no mat- 
ter luiw offensive to a community — is dsemed 
to have "serious artistic value." then it is 
protected by the First .Amendment 

U.S. District Judge Jose Gorjalez did r«t 
say when he will make ha dedsicn. 

Meanwhile, late bst week in Los Angeles, 
U.S. District Judge James Ideman barred 2 
Live Crew leader Luther Campbell from using 
"Luke Skyywalker" as a stage name pendir.if 
the outcome of a $3C0 miilkjn tradenvu-k 
ini'ringement suit filed by Lucasfilm Ltd. The 
judge said Campbell's use of the na.Tie "crented 
and will continue to create a likelihood of 
confusion" with the "Star Wars" hero. 




State Lawmakers Tackle Issue of Song Lyrics 
In Debate Over Rock and Role of Government 

By David Shxibman 

stuff Rtporter o/Tme Waij. STuerr Jouhmal 
ANNAPOUS. Md. - State legislator 
around the nation are listening to 2 Live 
Crew, Guns N' Roses and Ozzy Os- 

Committee chambers here and In Lin- 
coln. Neb.. Topeka, Kan.. Des Moines. 
Iowa and Jefferson City. Mo., aren't ordi- 
narily regarded as arenas tor the randiest 
strains of rock n' roll, but the lyrics of 
contemporary music are competing with 
the details of state budgets and the small 
print of insurance regulation for the atten- 
tion of lawmakers. 

An effort to require warning labels on 
recordings of rock and rap music has 
moved to the statehouses. and a third of 
the state legislatures are deliberating the 
question. Partly because of this, the record 
companies have agreed to come up with a 
new voluntary Industrywide labeling stan- 

The debate over labeling raises serious 
questions about the role of government and 
about artistic freedom. 

Michele Davis, director of the Republi- 
can Governors Association, says, "For the 
decade of the 1990s, the most bitter, emo- 
donai debates -the screaming, the crying, 
the real tough questions -are going to be In 
the state capitols. " 

Tanya Blackwood, spokeswoman for the 
Recording Industry Association of Amer- 
ica, says. "All of this stuff going on in the 
state legislatures Is one of the most serious 
issues the record industry has faced. It's 
harder to fight because were dealing with 
all of these legislatures instead of just go- 
ing up to Capitol Hill and conducting one 

.Many of the state bills were prompted 
by conservative groups -some of them 

part of the Christian Right-that sprang up 
to battle school cumcuia. sex education, 
abortion rights and child care. The groups 
include the Rev. Donald WUdmon's Ameri- 
can Family Association. 

"This is a political force in Its own 
right, " says .Michael Geer. president of the 
Pennsylvania Family Institute. Thomas 
Jipping. director of the Washington-based 
Free Congress Center for Law and Democ- 
racy, says, "It's part of the same pro-fam- 
ily movement that's trying to protect tradi- 
tional values. " 

The issue cuts across political party 
lines. The major sponsors of record-label 
legislation here in .Maryland and in Penn- 
sylvania were Democrats. 

"I'm not Jerry FalweU," says state 
Rep. Ronald Gamble, whose bill to require 

"All of this stuff going on in 

the state legislatures is one 

of the most serious issues 

the record industry has 


-Tanya Blackwood, 


record labeling prevailed In the Pennsylva- 
nia House 149-51. "We're regular guys who 
don't think kids should be listening to this 
junk. We're spending millions fighting teen 
violence and suicide and then across the 
street there's the recording Industry glori- 
fying and promoting the very things we're 
fighting. " 

The labeling movement got its start 
when Tipper Gore, wife of U.S. Sen. Albert 
Gore, and Susan Baker, wife of Secretary 

of State James Baker, expressed alarm a 
songs dealing with sex and violence. 

Four years ago. their group. Parents 
.Music Resource Center, and the Natlona 
PTA agreed with the Recording Industr> 
Association of America on a voluntary la 
beling system. It included a warning labe 
("Explicit lyrics, parental advisory") or 
the printing of the lyncs on the record 

Today. Parents' Music Resource Center 
opposes the bills in state legislatures mak 
ing record labeling a legal requirement. 

'The record producers can show re- 
sponsibility themselves by creating a use- 
ful consumer tool, " says Mrs. Gore. But 
she also thinks the record companies 
haven't lived up to the spirit of their agree- 

The major opposition to laws on label- 
ing comes from groups that agree with 
People for the America Way that record 
labeling is "the music censorship move- 
ment of the 1990s. " 

"This is just another one of these at- 
tempts to legislate morality. " says Stuan 
Comstock-Gay. director of the Maryland 
chapter of the American Civil Liberties 
Union. "People don't want to hear what 
they don't like-messages about Satanism 
or drugs or sex. But one of the bedrock 
Ideas of our society is that we allow all 
kinds of ideas, even offensive ones." 

When Maryland's House Judiciary Com- 
minee recently considered labeling legisla- 
tion, the hearing attracted Jim Rogers, di- 
rector of Mission America who says "we 
have to have mainstream ideas controlling 
the country. " and Kenneth Stevens, a re- 
tired federal employee who says "the pru- 
dish super-moralists persist in trying to 
use government to tell the rest of us what 
we can read or view " The bill died in 

In some state, music industry officials 
worry that legislative moves could disrupt 
the music distribution system. In Arizona, 
for example, record-store operators say 
the legislation before the state senate-on 
hold while lawmakers review the new vol- 
untary measures -would require stores to 
invest millions to monitor and latiel rec- 

'That burden would be ridiculous, so 
the practical effect is that everything 
would get a label on it. " savs .Michael 
Braun. a Phoenix. Ari2.. attorney for the 
Recording Industry Association of Amer- 
ica. 'That's the only way the record stores 
can protect themselves-and it would de- 
fea: the purpose of the legislation." 


Es a- a 8 >% 


in m I 


— g tl e <J 






ill fl.I 




LEVEL : ■ - OF :: stories 

Copyright ^>93 .'lews world Communicacions , Ir.c . 
The Washington Times 

December ;2. :993, Wednesday, Final Edition 


LENGTH: 3 38 words 

HEADLINE: 'Gangsta rap' protest gets 5 arrested 



rive protesters arrested in front cf a record store yesterday said they are 
waging war against " gangsta rap, " music with lyrics that they feel degrade 
women and encourage violence. 

The leader of the National Political Congress of Black Women, C. Delores 
Tucker, was arrested after blocking the entrance to the Nobody Beats the Wiz 
record score at 1115 F St. NW. Joining her in plastic handcuffs were former 
D.C. Council member Nadine winter, syndicated radio personality Joe Madison, 
activist and comedian Dick Gregory and Bishop Thorpe of the Solid Rock Full 
Gospel Baptist Church in the District. 

"This crusade is against misogynist lyrics and gangsta rap, not the artist, " 
Mrs. Tucker said at a press conference before the protest. "These companies 
should refuse to sell such cultural garbage. 

"We must not let the pornography rap be played in our homes this Christmas 
or ever, " she said. 

The group then marched to the store from the Grand Hyatt. There, they were 
met by store employees who appeared ill -prepared for the protesters outside. 

As the temperature hovered at 43 degrees and the wind reached 43 mph, 
protesters gripped signs that read "Gangsta rap is rape" and "Stop the violence: 
Eliminate gangsta rap." 

Shoppers inside stood staring at the pickets and customers who weaved their 
way along the sidewalk to enter the store. More than one employee pushed 
protesters and a cameraman away from the door. Store employees refused to 
comment yesterday. 

"We are not thought police, and we are not trying to stifle anyone's First 
Amendment rights," Mrs. Tucker said. 

Some of the onlookers disagreed with the group's tactics. "Gangsta rap 
isn't the reason for violent offenses," said Mike Frsuicis, who said he works 
with troubled youth in the city. "This will more likely alienate [youngsters]." 

"I disagree with this as a tactic," said Ambrose Lane Jr., an announcer 
known as "X-man" on WPFW radio. 'It amounts to censorship." 

GRAPHIC: Photo, Ron Cartier pretests violent, sexual rap outside the Nobody 
Beats the Wiz store in Northwest yesterday.. By Kenneth Lambert/The Washington 


LOAD- DATE -MDC: December 22, 1993 


Mrs. Collins. Mr. Cornelius. 


Mr, Cornelius. Madam Chairwoman and members of the com- 
mittee, in order to understand the ever-growing popularity of a 
music form known as gangsta rap, it is necessary to briefly explore 
rap music in general and some of the reasons why rap has become 
the musical entertainment preference of many millions of youth 
and young adults throughout the free world. 

Originally intended as a purely entertaining form of street and 
night club or dance club rhyming or poetry spoken over prerecorded 
music tracks, rap music has evolved into a somewhat legitimate 
popular music art form for which many young musicians, lyricists, 
and recorded music producers — ^who are connected, often sociologi- 
cally, to America's underclass, particularly that segment which is 
African American — are able to express various kinds of com- 
mentary on some of the harder realities of life as it exists in many 
of America's African-American ghettos. The preponderance of re- 
corded rap music which deals with ghetto life is likely to include 
extremely profane lyrics, lyrics which tend to glorify violence or il- 
legal firearms or drug use, lyrics which are degrading or disrespect- 
ful to women or sexually explicit l5n-ics. This kind of rap has be- 
come widely known as "hard-core" rap. 

The form known as gangsta rap is a relatively recent spin-off of 
basic hard-core. Gangsta rap lyrics tend to glorify or glamorize re- 
belliousness, defiance of the law, or various forms of street hustling 
in the minds of its listeners, much the same way as being bad or 
tough has historically been and still is being glamorized in the 
movies and oftentimes on television. 

As to the question, why would African-American youth be so re- 
ceptive to the marketing of hard-core and gangsta rap and the mes- 
sages within, I would ask, why wouldn't African -American youth 
pay attention to artists who seem to fully understand the life-style 
problems that African-American youth face? And why wouldn't Af- 
rican-American youth be anxious to listen to recording artists who 
are willing to openly discuss and dramatize many of these dire 
problems within the context of their records? 

In spite of its many critics and detractors, rap music has indeed 
been very effective and, in some ways, a Godsend in providing en- 
tertainment relief and, in many cases, economic relief to a largely 
forgotten community. 

On the other hand, it goes without saying that anyone who sells 
any form of entertainment which is either antisocial or illegal in 
nature and cannot be indulged in except behind closed doors, is en- 
gaged in what could be defined as pandering. This same standard 
should also apply, regarding hard-core or gangsta rap. 

If I were asked, should governmental steps be taken to curtail 
hard-core or gangsta rap, or to clean up rap lyrics, or to make re- 
cording artist's or record companies' pandering to the rebellious- 
ness of youth illegal, I would say no to all three. 

Consumer pandering within reason is, of course, an accepted 
practice in America with respect to entertainment distribution. 
Movie studios and home video movie distributors openly pander to 
customers who enjoy somewhat antisocial or sexually explicit enter- 


tainment. Most major distributors of such entertainment do, how- 
ever, exercise a reasonable degree of social responsibility through 
the almost universal use of a well-designed rating system. 

Rap music, in my view, does not need to be censored. Rap music 
and all other recordings — I repeat, all other recordings — do need to 
be rated just as movies are. Records by any recording artists which 
are violently or sexually explicit or which promote illegal drug or 
firearm use or any other antisocial behavior should be clearly 
marked and identified as X-rated. The parental guidance sticker 
system presently being used in the recording industry is simply not 

While a rating system may not completely solve all of the prob- 
lems concerning hard-core or gangsta rap recordings, such a proc- 
ess may be well worth considering, Madam Chairwoman, as a place 
to begin. 

Thank you. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Cornelius follows:] 

Statement of Don Cornelius, President, Don Cornelius Productions 

In order to understand the ever-growing popularity of the music form known as 
Gangsta Rap it is necessary to briefly explore rap music in general and some of the 
reasons why rap has become the musical entertainment preference of many millions 
of youth and young adults throughout the free world. 

Originally intended as a purely entertaining form of street and night club or 
dance club rhyming or poetry spoken over prerecorded music tracks, rap music has 
evolved into a legitimate, popular music art form through which many young musi- 
cians, l3Ticists and recorded music producers who are connected, often sociologically 
to America's underclass (particularly that segment which is African-American) are 
able to express various kinds of commentary on some of the harder realities of life 
as it exists in many of America's African-American ghettos. The preponderance of 
recorded rap music which deals with ghetto life is likely to include extremely pro- 
fane lyrics, lyrics which tend to glorify violence or illegal firearms or drug use, lyrics 
which are degrading or disrespectful to women, or sexually explicit l)Tics. This kind 
of rap has become widely known as "hard core" rap. 

Rap artists who specialize in hard core are well aware going in that hard core 
records, for obvious reasons, get no radio station airplay whatsoever, which would 
literally be the kiss of death for any other recording artist. This is usually not the 
fate, however, in the case of hard core rappers, thanks to what is known as the 
"under-ground" retailing market, a random array of small, independent record 
stores located usually in urban areas of the United States and specializing (at least 
partly) in hard core rap records which are sold mostly through word of mouth. It 
was eventually determined that the harder the core of an underground rap record, 
the bigger the unit sales and the more income the artist and the record label would 

The underground record market established the fact that there exists an enor- 
mous audience (comprised mostly of youthful record buyers) which apparently en- 
joys hard core rap. Moreover, this consumer group is not limited to African- Amer- 
ican youth who live in America's African-American ghettos. Record industry sales 
research indicates that roughly 60 percent of all rap records sold are bought by 

The form known as Gangsta Rap is a relatively recent spin-off of basic hard core. 
Gangsta Ray lyrics tend to glorify or glamorize rebelliousness, defiance of the law 
or various forms of street "hustling" in the minds of the listeners, much the same 
way as being 'Taad" and "tough" has historically been and still is being glamorized 
in the movies and often times on television. 

As to the question: "Why would African-American youth be so receptive to the 
marketing of nard core and Gangsta Rap and the messages within?", I would ask: 
"Why wouldn't African-American youth pay attention to artists who seem to fully 
understand the lifestyle problems that African-American youth face. And why 
wouldn't African-American youth be anxious to listen to recording artists who are 
willing to openly discuss and dramatize many of these dire problems within the con- 
text of their records?" 


Please keep in mind that, for the most part, these are African-American youth for 
whom America has shown no real concern for, at least during the past decade or 
more. These are African-American youth in whom our country has invested very lit- 
tle over the past decade in terms of channeling economic assistance and better 
training and education to them and to the adults they rely upon. Over the last dec- 
ade our country has invested almost nothing toward creating the kinds of oppor- 
tunity which would allow such citizens to eventually better their Uves, their sur- 
roundings and ultimately their futures as Americans. I tend to wonder if we 
shouldn't be far more concerned about eliminating poverty violence, despair and 
hopelessness from low income African-American communities than we £ire about 
eliminating Gangsta Rap. 

In spite of its many critics and detractors, rap music has, indeed, been very effec- 
tive and in some ways a Godsend in providing entertainment relief and in many 
cases economic relief to a largely forgotten community. 

On the other hand, it goes without saying that anyone who sells any form of en- 
tertainment which is either anti-social or illegal in nature and cannot be indulged 
in except behind closed doors, is engaged in what covild be defined pandering. This 
same standard should also apply regarding hard core or Gangsta Rap. Therefore, 
any recording artist or record label who creates or sells any record which is anti- 
social, profane, violent or sexually explicit in nature to such a degree that it cannot 
be listened to in pubUc without offending others or cannot be listened to by youthful 
fans of such music in the presence of an adult authority figure, in a certain sense, 
is also engaged in pandering. I recently heard a well known Gangsta rapper explain 
his philosophy during a TV interview. He said, "I make music for poor people and 
there are far more poor people than rich people! So, as long as I satisfy poor people, 
111 always have a job!" 

I viewed this explanation as quite inteUigent and well thought out; but clearly a 
case of pandering to the naivete of youthful record buyers who are intrigued by anti- 
social commentary. 

At this time I am not prepared to say which is more perverse between pandering 
by certain political idealogues who do it to appease those who are turned on by pro- 
law and order, anti-urban development, anti-welfare and tax cutting rhetoric or pan- 
dering by recording artists and record companies to youth who think it's hip to lis- 
ten to Gangsta Rap. 

If I were asked, "Should governmental steps be taken to curtail hard core or 
Gangsta Rap; or to clean up rap lyrics; or to make recording artists or record compa- 
nies pandering to the rebelliousness of youth illegal, I would say no to all three. 

Consumer pandering within reason is, of course, an accepted practice in America 
with respect to entertainment distribution. Movie studios and home video movie dis- 
tributors openly pander to customers who enjoy somewhat anti-social or sexually ex- 
plicit entertainment. Most major distributors of such entertainment do, however, ex- 
ercise a reasonable degree of social responsibiUty through the almost universal use 
of a well designed rating system. 

Rap music does not need to be censored. Rap music and all other recordings do 
need to be rated just as movies are. Records by recording artists which are violently 
or sexually explicit or which promote illegal (frug or firearm use or anv other anti- 
social behavior should be clearly marked and identified «is "X-rated." llie "parental 
guidance" sticker system presently being used in the recording industry is simply 
not enourfi. 

The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) rating system allowed the 
movie industry to separate exploiters and panderers fixtm legitimately creative film 

The same result can occur with regard to the music industry with the support and 
participation of the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America). As the situation 
now stands, there is no real stigma attached to the creation, marketing or advertis- 
ing of a profane or anti-social record or LP. Individuals and companies which now 
openly pander to youth consumers who are attracted to anti-social recorded product 
would market such product with far less pride of accomplishment in the face of a 
strong rating system. 

A strong rating system will also place somewhat of a stigma on consumer owner- 
ship of such product regardless of the consumer's age. 

While a rating system may not completely solve all of the problems concerning 
hard core or Gangsta Rap recordings, such a process may be well worth considering 
as a place to begin. Thank you. 

Mrs. Collins. I don't want to overlook Mr. Madison if he has 
come in the room. He has not. 




I am going to begin with you, Mr. Cornelius. You mentioned in 
your testimony that the parental guidance sticker system presently 
being used in the recording industry is simply not enough. I have 
to agree with you. 

I was just given a recording by Coolyo, and I had to ask, where 
is the parental advisory? This little bitty thing down here is what 
they had to show me, because actually I couldn t see it. 

This reminds me of some hearings we had on toy safety. We were 
told by the industry that there were labels on the toys, but nobody 
could see the labels. In this instance, I certainly couldn't see it. I 
don't have 20/20, but I think if I had really looked for it without 
being shown, I would have overlooked it as being part of the overall 

Here is another one. This one is by Onyx, and this is fairly — 
more clearly — ^you are able to see it a little bit better. It is clear, 
and one can see it. It says, "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics." 

This one is in the jumble of artwork that is on Snoop Doggy 
Dogg, and it is down here, and you can see it better than you can 
on the other one. But they are somewhat obfuscated. But you are 
absolutely right; I believe that the sticker simply is not enough. I 
have to agree with what you have said in that case. 

Dr. Tucker, now, you have mentioned First Amendment rights. 
Let me say, I am not an advocate of changing First Amendment 
rights. I think everybody has a right to be creative. It goes to the 
heart of our Constitution. 

Why do you think it is necessary to relook at First Amendment 

Ms. Tucker. Certainly Canada has done that, and as I said in 
my testimony — have said that — the First Amendment right, first of 
all, its intention was not to provide freedom of speech to use ob- 

The legislative intent of the First Amendment was to provide 
citizens with the opportunity to redress the injustices of the gov- 
ernment. Now it is being used to argue that anything that is said, 
pornographic or explicit sex, and some words and some acts that 
are actually depicted in the lyrics are being defended with this use. 

I would say this, that obscenity has already been exempted from 
the First Amendment right, because there are words now that are 
bleeped, that cannot be said on the air. The very words our chil- 
dren can go into the store and buy, they can hear them, but yet 
they cannot be said. The "F word" is all through the language that 
is in your kit. I can't even use it here. But kids can get it and hear 
it and use it. 

The First Amendment also permits — does not permit one to say 
that they are going to kill the President. If I went out here today 
and said, I am going to kill President Clinton, I would be arrested. 

The First Amendment also will not let one incite — ^to sit in a 
movie theater and say, fire — even our Attorney General, Janet 
Reno, said you cannot do that. I think there is also a law that says 
that you cannot incite to riot. You can be arrested for inciting to 
riot. Many of us in the civil rights struggles of the 1960's were ar- 
rested for inciting to riot. 

These lyrics are inciting one to murder. They are inciting our 
young people to use a gun and kill. They are inciting our young 


people to cut her throat, rape her, and then 'T her." It is inciting 
them to do all kinds of pornographic acts. It is telling them to get 
a gun, ride in a car, and shoot her. Take a gun and do whatever 
you want to do — kill a cop. 

So the First Amendment, that was not the intent; and therefore 
we feel that the FCC has gdready — ^was established to provide some 
type of denial of freedom of speech for the airwaves. So it has been 
used. This is not a new avenue, but it already has been used to 
deny those kinds of lyrics or words that would incite to riot or to 
anything that is negative and against — inimlcable to the best inter- 
ests of this country or any people in this country. 

Might I say, too, on the question of the parental advisory on 
these albums or records or whatever they are, the tapes, parents 
don't go in to buy them. Children — a fifth grade student at St. Au- 
gustine Catholic School went in and bought the record. So they are 
not talking to parents. It doesn't matter; it is the children. That is 
what put us in front of the record stores and will keep us out there 
until it is stopped. 

Mrs. Collins. Mr. Cornelius, you mentioned about the labeling. 
I happen to have here the same Coolyo Country Line music CD. 
And it has on the front this very small advisory we mentioned be- 
fore, but it also says on the back, radio version on Country Line, 
Sticky Fingers radio version. What does it mean by that? 

Mr. Cornelius. The custom in the record industry, particularly 
regarding distribution of what is called "commercial copies" versus 
"promotional copies", is — as a matter of fact, it applies to both com- 
mercial copies, which are sold in the stores, such as you have; and 
to promotional copies, distributed to those of us in the industry. 
The marketers need to hear the record — ^is to provide several what 
are called "mixes" which are, in fact, versions. Some sound dif- 
ferent, some have a different lyric — some have a less hard-core 
lyric; some are shorter in version — ^but the intent there. Usually 
when you see a "radio version", that means that is a record that 
can be played on the radio, and some of the profanity that was 
originally intended for the consumer's ears, that does exist in the 
album version of that record, is probably not on that radio version. 
It means a clean version. 

It is a euphemism, Madam Chairwoman, for "clean." 

Mrs. Collins. Dr. Tucker, you say that the National Political 
Congress of Black Women will continue to demonstrate outside the 
record stores that sell this objectionable gangsta rap. 

What effect do you think your protest has had so far? 

Ms. Tucker. Well, we have demonstrated in front of the Wiz 
record store, and we gave them 48 hours for the chief executive of- 
ficer — president, chairman — ^to contact us, and they did it in 24 
hours. They plan to meet with us. We had two meetings set which 
were canceled by the snow. 

But we continue to do this. We are demonstrating all over the 
country. We are going to be launching a major offensive March the 
12th when the weather clears up. It has already made a decisive 

We have been able to get all of the national organizations— the 
Civil Rights Leadership Conference, they have endorsed our posi- 
tion; Reverend Joe Lowery, who cannot be here today, and all of 


the civil rights leaders; all of the fraternity and sorority groups; 
and the National Organization of Women have joined us. 

So we will be marching throughout the country to make sure 
that our children do not have access going into these stores. And 
then we intend to talk with the owners of the major companies that 
produce it and manufacture it. We have written them and we have 
made some contact with them and we are just going to continue 
until this scurrilous activity is removed from our communities. 

I might add too that in getting back to this First Amendment, 
I was just reading this here about the words here about, B, I just 
want to F you, cut you, treat you like a trampy slut, and then these 
words here that were on the Boss record, telling someone to put a 
shotgun to one's head; and then the 2 Live Crew, something that 
was passed out here, I can't even say the words, but I wish you 
would refer to it this, it is in your package. 

I can't say the words, but the First Amendment was not meant 
to provide this kind of filth and pornographic smut to our children. 

Mrs. Collins. We have been joined now by Mr. Madison; is that 

Mr. Madison. Yes, ma'am. 

Mrs. Collins. We are glad you were able to make it. The other 
panelists have already given their testimony. You are welcome to 
give yours now. 


Mr. Madison. I apologize. My wife slipped and hurt her knee as 
we were going outdoors. So, I do apologize. 

Let me make my first point, from the very beginning of my state- 
ment, and I made the point in a news conference in which I was 
invited to be with Ms. Tucker. And that statement is in, basically, 
two parts. Our mothers, our wives, our sisters, our nieces, our 
aunts, grandmothers, cousins, girlfriends are not bitches and ho's. 

I am not opposed to rap or hip hop as an art form. But I am op- 
posed to gangsta rap. When radio stations bombard the airwaves 
with these messages of hate, killing and self-destruction, it will 
cause a conflict even within those families that may have taught 
other values. 

I have a 14-year-old son who is a perfect example, a good young 
man who is on the honor roll, a star athlete in basketball and foot- 
ball, but he began fantasizing and hero-worshipping the images of 
thugs and criminals, even to the point of dressing like gangsta rap- 
pers he saw on the music videos at night, and sometimes during 
the day, and believed jail, in a conversation we once had, was a 
better alternative to his middle-class home and existence. 

It is not hard to imagine that young people emulate gangsta rap- 
pers. Many of these rappers are their own age. 

Hero-worshipping or emulating is a large part of all young peo- 
ple's lives. Basketball legend Michael Jordan is paid millions of dol- 
lars to endorse sneakers because advertisers and marketers know 
that many children and some adults will buy those sneakers be- 
cause they want to be like Mike. 

Children go as far as shaving their heads, wearing black sneak- 
ers and even try walking pigeon-toed to try to be like Mike, be- 


cause they want the world to acknowledge them, for something 
good, bad, positive, or negative. 

What is so frightening to so many is, in depicting these depriva- 
tions of the inner city, gangsta rappers believe they must not just 
chant the part, but in some cases live it as well. 

Tupac Shakur, for example, has been indicted by a grand jury on 
one count of engaging in deviant sexual intercourse, sodomy and 
gang rape. The same rapper allowed a woman to perform oral sex 
on him in the middle of a crowded dance floor in a New York dis- 
cotheque. He showed up at a magazine interview with a large bag 
of marijuana in his hand, began carrying a gun. He returned to his 
alma mater, the Baltimore School of Performing Arts, and gave a 
shocking, profanity-filled address to students. 

At the 18th Annual National Association of Black Journalists 
Convention in Houston, Tex. last summer, remarks from a rap mu- 
sician ignited a furor at an opening session entitled, "Hip Hop: The 
Medium, Its Message and Responsibility." A member of a gangsta 
rap group, Geto Boys, Bushwick Bill, peppered his remarks with 
references to women as "bitches" and "ho's." When an audience 
member asked the rapper why he used such terms, he replied, the 
only women he knows are "bitches" and "ho's." 

It is just sad to think that this is how the children of the civil 
rights movement end up. People in the civil rights movement who 
went to jail, and like Medgar Evers were killed because of their be- 
liefs. Now, 30 vears later, their children are subjected to the glorifi- 
cation of violence, sexual abuse, denigrating messages about 
women, and disrespect for their community in general, all in the 
name of commerce. 

However, Billboard Magazine in December of 1993, in their edi- 
torial, stated in part — No form of popular music is important 
enough to justify or excuse racism, sexual bigotry, or the endorse- 
ment of psychopathic behavior. 

I would like to offer some suggestions. One, I would encourage 
that the music industry police itself by instituting, as some have, 
l3n*ic review committees and refuse to release certain records. 

Two, that radio stations should stop pla5dng gangsta rap music 
that glamorizes brutality and contains misogynist and racist lyrics. 
I am very proud that Pierre Sutton, president of Inner City Broad- 
casting in New York, and Willie Davis of KACE in Los Angeles, 
Cathy Hughes of Radio One in Washington, DC, have announced 
that they will not play gangsta rap. 

I would hope that the FCC would review these stations and other 
stations that are playing gangsta rap and that refuse not to — that 
they would consider action against them as they did in the case of 
Howard Stem and Infinity Broadcasting Corporation. And I also 
hope that the FCC is not imposing a double standard on enforcing 
decency in broadcasting. 

Finally, we must begin to educate parents and the community in 
general about the lyrics and their impact on our children. 

Finally, all of my adult life I have been a vocal advocate — as a 
member of the NAACP board, a staff member of the NAACP 
board — an advocate of freedom of speech and expression. I also be- 
lieve that along with freedom goes the responsibility to use it wise- 
ly. In the give and take of the marketplace, bad and destructive 


ideas hopefully are driven out or marginalized while the good ideas 
are sustained. 

Sixty years ago in another country the Jewish people had their 
character attacked through the use of cartoons and other methods 
of mass media. The process of dehumanization often began with 
seemingly innocent expressions of free speech, only to gather 
strength and become part of the fabric of the country's culture. 

My opposition to gangsta rap should not be interpreted as a con- 
flict between generations. I love young people, and it is because of 
that love as an adult that I have an obligation to counsel them on 
the damages of buying into an agenda of those who have no love 
or respect for our community. 

Most of us strive to give our kids a vital moral center — that is 
our absence will remind them that women are to be respected, vio- 
lence is a last resort, and no matter how much money gangsta rap- 
pers make, their version of reality in black America must be re- 

Thank you, ma'am. 

Mrs. Collins. Mr. Madison, if the majority of the children are 
able to take gangsta rap or other violent video games in perspec- 
tive, are we really just making a mountain out of a molehill? 

Mr. Madison. I don't know if we can say the majority of them 
are. There haven't been any studies to indicate that is the case. 
This is the argument, however, that is presented by those in the 

But my main objection is that I don't know of any other culture 
in America where the music is played to their young people that 
calls for killing, the slitting of the throat of a mother and watching 
her twitch. We don't see that type of message directed at young 
Jewish kids. We don't see that type of message directed and played 
on the stations that are directed at different demographics. 

It seems to be very prominent in the black community. 

So my point is that even though there may be a sense of reality 
about what goes on in the inner city, it is also a reality that 97 
percent of the people in our community are law-abiding people who 
want the best for their children. And no matter how hard we may 
strive to give them education, to see that they attend great schools 
or good schools, we still have to deal with the peer pressure. 

I am just opposed to this absurd message that accentuates the 
negative and pretty much curtails what is positive about our com- 
munity. And I would also add that hip hop and rap for a long time 
were very positive in this country, and young black people were 
singing the praises of Malcolm and Martin — and I don't mean Mar- 
tin Lawrence; I mean Martin Luther King — and they were singing 
their praises, and all of a sudden, here emerges this gangsta rap, 
here emerges this negative discussion, and their attention is di- 
verted over to the worst aspects of our culture. 

Ms. Tucker. May I just make a statement, Congresswoman? 

Mrs. Collins. Yes, and I am going to ask Mr. Cornelius the 
same question. Go ahead. 

Ms. Tucker. I just wanted to make this statement, that many 
of the rappers that we have talked to have said that they have 
positive messages, which do not receive the support or get contracts 
from the industry. In the Wall Street Journal, there was a story 


there about Lichelle "Boss" Laws. Her story says that they moved 
to Los Angeles in the hopes of getting discovered. They have a won- 
derful, positive rap; and they soon learned that the industry was 
more fascinated with a group of hard-core gangsta rappers like Ice 
T and NWA. With their softer style, the producers turned down 
these nice young women, one that had gone to private school. 

The producers turned them down, "/md they were telling us that 
we didn't curse enough", says Ms. Laws. That is her quote. The 
women decided to start using profanity in their rap. 

Now they have turned this young lady into a gangsta, and her 
title of— I think this album is "Bom Gangsta." A young woman, 
private school, is in college, was doing positive rap, with nice uni- 
forms; and everyone said it was great until she went to Hollywood, 
and they told her she had to be a gangsta. 

Now, here she is now, on an album or whatever, holding a gun. 
She is now telling the world and telling young people who are buy- 
ing this that she is a bom gangsta. 

Mrs. Collins. Well, we are going to ask questions of the record- 
ing industry when they come up here, but I do have a question for 
Mr. Cornelius. The recording industry seems to insist we should 
work toward reforming our decayed neighborhoods rather than 
"wasting" our time on this issue. Does gangsta rap empower the 
artists? Some say that it gives young people an opportunity to ex- 
plain what their environment is like, 

Mr. Cornelius. I think it gives young people an opportunity. 
Any rap gives young people an opportunity to feel that they exist. 
I am concerned that there is so much criticism against young peo- 
ple, and so little information or ideas with respect to teaching these 
young people how to channel their energies in other ways. 

No, gangsta rap does not empower kids to do anything. It is only 
kids saying — ^you know — we exist, we have problems. Our therapy 
is to talk about them. 

They are people who nobody really has spent much money on or 
spent much concern on. They are part of a more or less forgotten 
community. Along come these young rappers with all of this nega- 
tive commentary who Eire sa5dng, we know that you are there, we 
know what your problems are, we not only know what they are, we 
are willing to dramatize and comment on these problems in our 

Which is to say that if you are a kid and you are just existing 
and nobody really cares about you, and all of a sudden you look up 
and people are talking to you about things you need to talk about, 
you naturally would respond. 

On the other side, people who never really cared about these peo- 
ple are now concerned because folks who would like to make a liv- 
ing, who consider themselves creative people, are responding to 
these people. Where were these people before the rappers started 
to create rap, and where were these people when these conditions 
were developing? 

I just don't think it is reasonable for any of us to sit here and 
say what these young people shouldn't do and should be stopped 
from doing without presenting any ideas as to what they might do 
once you stop them from doing what they are doing. It is like say- 


ing, stop — it is like saying stop having abortions, but not providing 
any ideas as to what to do with the kids after you have them. 

And I would also like to mention that you will find, Madam 
Chairwoman, that this same, or very similar problems, exist with 
respect to record release content vis-a-vis lyrics on the pop general 
market or white side. And when you speak to witnesses like Ernie 
Singleton, president of Black Music, MCA Records, or Nelson 
George, probably one of the most astute writers in America on the 
subject of African American life, they will probably be able to give 
you much more information than I could with respect to the gravity 
of the problem as it pertains to white records or general market 
records and white kids. 

I can't give you information on that industry because I only lis- 
ten to black records. 

Mrs. Collins. Generations have enjoyed your show, Soul Train, 
You have been very instrumental in bringing many talented artists 
to the attention of the country. What made you decide to take a 
stand on the issue of gangsta rap? 

Mr. Cornelius. Well, I don't consider it taking a stand, Madam 
Chairwoman. I was invited and I have views on a lot of issues. Un- 
fortunatelv, I don't get in trouble on it because nobody asks me. 
You askea me so I kind of had to tell you, but more specifically to 
your question, we are having some difficulty as a program market- 
ing the programs with certain records containing certain lyrics con- 
tained in our programs. 

We specifically do not deal and are not able to deal with hard- 
core rap in our programs. It just is not permitted yet. Television 
is not there yet. Radio seems to be a lot more open or lenient to 
some of the lyrics that are contained in rap records than TV sta- 
tions are per se. 

Therefore, if we want to stay in business, there are certain 
records that we just cannot play whether we like them or not. 

My concern is not just gangsta rap. We receive records and we 
receive artists who report for appearances on Soul Train who have 
records that are a bit too explicit sexually for us to use. Some of 
the artists we like very, very much, and in some cases we have 
good relationships with their managers or their labels or their pro- 
ducers or what-have-you, but we have had to take a position with 
respect to which agendas we will allow to be promoted on any Soul 
Train show, and the agendas which we will allow to be promoted 
number exactly zero. 

If the record is not — has any reference to guns or gun use, there 
is nothing I can do. I can't do the act. I can t do — unless we mute 
certain Ijrrics. I can't play the record as a dance record. If it has 
any reference to any misogynistic lyrics involved, we just push it 
aside. If it has any reference to drug use, we either have to mute 
the words — if the words are infrequent enough, we will mute the 
words. If they are too frequent to mute, we have to pass on the 
record altogether. 

So that is why I have a concern. I haven't taken a stand yet. I 
think every position taken contributes to the debate. I don't dis- 
agree with anj^hing any of your witnesses have said so far with 
respect to the comment being worthy of debate. 

As far as my personal opinion, that is for another discussion. 


But specifically as to my own stand, if you will, it is based on 
the fact that some of this material is just not usable in the open 
market and interstate commerce. 

Mrs. Collins. Thank you. In your statement, I am looking at it 
again, all the way back again to this sticker business, you mention 
that the parental guidance sticker system being used by the record- 
ing industry is simply not enough, and you make mention of the 
Motion Picture Association rating system that allows the movie in- 
dustry to separate exploiters of violence from legitimately creative 

Would you suggest that instead of this little advisory notice, 
some kind of X-rating system or something like that be used on 
these CD's and tapes. 

Mr. Cornelius. Yes, I would, Madam Chairwoman. I think that 
the parental guidance system allows producers, artists, labels, dis- 
tributors, manufacturers, to release records that are vulgar, pro- 
fane, antisocial in general with impunity. That is, they do so with- 
out any stigma whatsoever attached to it. 

In the movie industry, the Russ Myers type producers long ago 
had to form a line to the left — in a line where people are who make 
dirty movies and it became less respectable to do so once the rating 
system kicked in. 

There is that possibility that the same thing may apply in the 
record industry, versus censorship, which I am not necessarily 
against censorship because if you look around you, censorship oc- 
curs fairly regularly, but usually with respect to issues that threat- 
en children who are not black. 

For example, there was a movie issue recently where there was 
a scene in a movie where kids got ran over by a train or something. 
I don't know specifics, but they kind of took the scene out of the 
movie because a white kid tried to do that. 

So a lot of folks who are anti-censorship don't seem to be anti- 
censorship when it is initiated to protect whites. There is a cartoon 
series on MTV that was moved around because it was felt that 
some white kids got hurt as a result of them imitating something 
on this cartoon series. 

Well, to move that series is a form of censorship as well. So there 
are arguments on both sides of the censorship issue. I am not sure 
which side I am on. I think it depends on — it has to depend on the 
situation. I don't think there is a blanket censorship solution that 
applies in every case, but more to the point you raised, the — a 
strong rating system which is monitored by the organization that 
more or less oversees the record industry, which is the Record In- 
dustry Association of America, and which is very similar to the Mo- 
tion Picture Association industry of America, may take this indus- 
try in a direction where releasing dirty records is not something 
that one can do without suffering some damage to one's reputation. 

Obviously that is not a solution, but neither is censorship. 

Mrs. Collins. Thank you. 

Mr. Madison. 

Mr. Madison. Well, I wanted to make another point in reference 
to censorship and the rating situation, and I would agree with Mr, 
Cornelius on this. 


The other thing we have to worry about is when our young peo- 
ple, no matter what age, and I am talking now about minors, go 
into record shops, they can hear some of the lyrics that Ms. Tucker 
is reluctant to speak here today because she is a lady and no one 
wants to hear that type of language. 

So my 11-year-old will hear these misogynous lyrics and they are 
blared throughout the record store. No one seems to control that 
except by going to the manager and saying, do not have this on the 

This would be like going into a video store that sells videos and 
then you air X-rated movies on the screen to spot show what you 
sell behind the closed doors, and I think we need to understand 

The other point I wanted to make was, this is not confrontation 
with young people. I had my own son who buys his cassettes and 
CD's, and I asked him, "Let me see what you are buying, let me 
hear your music, what is hip hop to you", and I pulled out a stack 
of what he said was hip hop. I said, "What is rap or non-hip hop?" 
He pulled out that stack. I said, "Now where is your gangsta rap?" 
And he reluctantly pulled out his gangsta rap. 

They can identify and they know the difference, but when this 
came to our attention was, again, when we as adults were watch- 
ing in our home what our children and what we have been told to 
do, what our children watch on television, and we watched with 
them these videos and we listened to these Ijnrics and then we 
began to educate them that this is not the way you want to talk 
and act in real life. 

And so the pants had to come up off the hip and the shoe strings 
had to go back in, and the language had to be cleaned up and the 
fascination with guns had to end. 

I have spent all my life working with young people. I was 23 
years old when I became the executive director of the Detroit 
NAACP. That was very young, and I spent most of my time work- 
ing with young people and often we will hear young rappers say, 
as one said yesterday in an interview I did on CBC, Canadian 
Broadcasting. We were discussing this issue, that the older genera- 
tion, the black leaders have done absolutely nothing. The black 
politicians have done nothing for this generation. 

Well, we obviously have more opportunities than we had 30, 40, 
50 years ago and it was because many of us sitting here today sac- 
rificed and gave our lives to see to it that this young generation 
has at least the opportunity to do what they need to do. 

Have we completed it all? No. And there is a lot of work to do, 
but this is not because we do not love our young people. It is just 
the opposite. 

Mrs. Collins. Mr. Madison, you recommend that record compa- 
nies refuse to release certain records. One, on what grounds would 
record companies suppress certain records or songs, and two, 
wouldn't this lead to censorship? 

Mr. Madison. Again, I think, as Don said, we do have censor- 
ship. You can call it what you want. I mean, censorship. I am a 
talk show host and if I am not mistaken, there are seven 
unforbidden words that I can't say on the air, and there is a reason 
for that. 


I think it is just simply a responsibility of using the freedoms 
that we have wisely. Censorship, The freedom of speech and ex- 
pression does not mean that one can simply be uncivilized in their 
attitude and their behavior. I do censor my children in what they 
can and cannot watch, and I think that although I pride myself on 
being a purist, I certainly would not want to see legal legislative 
censorship. I really would not, but I would want to give the music 
industry an opportunity to police itself, just as they were given an 
opportunity to police themselves when it came to violent movies. 

Just this past year there was a violent video game that showed 
people being killed in it and the industry responded by pulling it 
off the shelves and then eventually Sega not producing it. 

Mr. Cornelius. I think it is something — I agree, and I think it 
is something closer to social responsibility, Madam Chairwoman. 
As the witness just stated, partially true and partially not so likely 
if there was a rating system. You don't see X-rated videos played 
in a video store where a kid can readily walk in and see it. If it 
was played — ^because X-rated videos are considered pornographic 
material and it is against the law to expose pornographic material 
in public, as far as I know. 

If a record was X rated, X means X. It is like marriage. Marriage 
means marriage. If you play an X-rated record in public, that 
would probably be against the law. 

So that what, if anything, needs to be legislated, it is something 
that might at least encourage some social responsibility, and that 
is all the movie industry exercises — is social responsibility. So that 
we are kind of all on the same page. 

It is just a question of semantics in terms of what you end up 
calling it as chairwoman of the committee. 

Mrs. Collins. I have a final question for you. Dr. Tucker. In 
your testimony you seem to compare gangsta rappers' images to 
the Amos and Andy and Aunt Jemima images of the minstrel era. 

Is this a fair comparison? Aren't gangsta rappers seen by young 
people as strong and hard as opposed to minstrel-like people? 

Ms. Tucker. No, because Amos and Andy and Aunt Jemima 
were promoted and financed to portray the images that many 
blacks had to do in order to survive. They had to live, and I have 
heard some of the gangsta rappers say they have to live. They are 
going to get their $3 million and then when something happens 
about gangsta rap, they will be gone. 

So they have to live and they say that this is a way that they 
can make a living, and we are being told in some quarters that if 
we ban gangsta rap, we are going to deny a lot of young people jobs 
and money and that. I said in a meeting that we had last evening, 
**Well, then, should we let the drug industry continue?" A lot of 
people have jobs through that. 

But those images. Aunt Jemima and Amos and Andy 

Mrs. Collins. Those jobs aren't legitimate jobs. Those are illegal 

Ms. Tucker. These really aren't legitimate either. 

Mrs. Collins. In the eyes of the law they are. 

Ms. Tucker. If this obscenity is against the law, to be used 
even — Don Cornelius is saying he would not play the gangsta rap 
on his show. 


Mrs. Collins. That is a judgment call. 

Ms. Tucker. Yes, but there are children though who can buy the 
record, and then when I even tried to show the Snoop Doggy Dogg 
artwork, I was told they couldn't show it on TV. And I used the 
word that was in one of the lyrics. I used a word — some of you 
know — I read the "F" word and some other words, and they told 
me on the air waves that I am going to make them lose their li- 

Now, if it is that bad, then why is it that a child can go in? I 
am saying that the record industry as Sister Boss said, made her 
do that in order to get a contract. She couldn't get in until they 
were interested in her using the Ice T language and the other kind 
of language, and that is why she is doing what she is doing. 

And the last part of her statement was, yes, I am a bom gangsta, 
I know how to do business and this is how I am going to do the 

And so they are being tools of the system and actually what some 
have ssiid about these young gangsta rappers are they are the new 
Tom raps of the hood, because they are being used in doing what 
the industry is telling them in order for them to have a kind of life- 
style that they want. 

They want to be somebody. The fella that wrote me from the 
prison said, we do it because we want to be somebody and the only 
way they can be somebody is to do this kind of negative behavior. 
The Mana did it in times past, is still doing it. Whatever they have 
to do to survive, they are going to do it. 

What I am saying is, and I want to say this very clearly, that 
this isn't my business. My business has always been to help elect 
men and women to office to sit where you are and to help us to 
get the kind of legislation that will make our communities better. 

I went out to campaign for a young woman who sits in this Con- 
gress now, Maxine Waters. She asked me to come and campaign 
for her when she first ran for the legislature. My life has been dedi- 
cated to that, making certain we get men and women in office. 

I used to march to the Capitol with Dr. King. I marched to Mont- 
gomery, Alabama with him telling the Greorge Wallaces to let us go. 
And I realized that when our feet left the church, we marched to 
the political kingdoms of this Nation, Harrisburg, Pa.; Jackson, 
Miss.; Washington, DC, saying to let us in. 

That is what my life has been about because I understand that 
in order to change the conditions that have been created and 
spawned these gangsta rappers — what has spawned them is going 
to be changed only through the political process. I have spent my 
life, when I was secretary of state of Pennsylvania, was to make 
sure the election procedures reduced the age from 21 to 18 so 
young people could use the vote to get whatever they want. 

I told some young rappers that I brought into my office, I said — 
they came to me to help them. I said, you must help yourselves. 
You can register, you can vote. Julian Bond was 21 when he be- 
came a legislator. I told them that the whole civil rights struggle 
of the 1960's was run by young students in college, Jessie Jackson 
and Marion Barry. They were all students in SNCC, and I am 
using them to use their power. And that is what the national politi- 
cal Congress is about, helping to change those conditions to bring 


jobs, to bring training, to bring education, to help them to under- 
stand that the power to change themselves is in politics. I am urg- 
ing them to register to vote, to campaign and run for office. Then 
you can really change the conditions that will help your young 
ones — ^who are 12, 13, 14 — emulating you to do something about it 
by sitting in the seats of power throughout our country, in the city 
halls and the State halls and right here in the United States Con- 
gress and then in the oval office of this United States. 

Mrs. Collins. Mr. Madison, your last words? 

Mr. Madison. Well, first of all, I grew up listening to Soul Train 
and I am happy to be sitting at the same table with Don Cornelius 
and that is the one show my 14-year-old will watch and can watch 
because of the reasons that he just said, and there are other shows 
that he won't watch because of the reasons that he mentioned. 

I marched and have a record in civil rights. I walked across this 
country from Los Angeles to Baltimore, registering over 200,000 
young people and took 100, all young people, with me. And so I re- 
ject this notion that somehow I am out of touch and I don't under- 

I understand, and I have had my rebellious times, and I thank 
God that I had responsible adults who told me that when I became 
an adult and it was my turn to be in a position of leadership, that 
I would do the types of things that would uplift my community. 

These young rappers glorify Malcolm X. If Malcolm X was alive 
today, he would be sitting where I am sitting now. They glorify 
Martin Luther King. If Martin was alive today, as a religious man, 
he would be opposed to the type of images that are being 
bombarded in the ears and the minds of our young people. 

And so what I want to see young people become are Congress- 
women, Senators, leaders of this country, not hoodlums and gang- 
sters, and I wish that the recording industry would promote and 
permit these young people to rap and chant about the things that 
uplift a people, like Martin chanted about and Martin rapped 

Mrs. Collins. Mr. Cornelius. 

Mr. Cornelius. Yes, thank you. Madam Chairwoman. I would 
like to close by commenting with all due respects — respect to Mr. 
Madison and Dr. Tucker. I don't specifically disagree with either. 

I am not as personally insulted by rap music as they happen to 
be. I don't feel that rappers should be indicted as a group as either 
or both might be inclined to do. I do not feel that it is appropriate 
to focus or overfocus on this symptom, be it rap, gangsta rap, or 
hard-core rap without some serious focus on what brought us to 
this point, what some of the causes are, but more importantly than 
all of that, I think it is very important that we be careful not to 
add to the glamorization of gangsta rap. 

Gangsta rap, if you will. Madam Chairwoman, is only part of the 

Some of the rap records that deal with sexual explicitness are, 
in my view, as much a problem, if not more of a problem than 
gangsta rap, and with all due respect to our other two witnesses, 
I am not sure that they fully understand how popular rap is. It is, 
in fact, not going anywhere. 


You can do anything you want to do on this committee and when 
you look around, rap is still going to be there unfortunately. 

But the bottom line is that we don't, at least I don't want to over 
glamorize gangsta rap, because the more we jump up and down 
about it without any real solutions or ideas as to how to control it, 
the more popular it is going to get, and we ought to take a hard 
look at radio and television, not just with respect to how it treats 
gangsta rap, because, again, that is only part of the problem, but 
how it has evolved from 25 years ago when I started into radio to 
an industry where you can say things now that you just could not 
say — ^you couldn't even think about saying when I started in radio. 

So that gangsta rap is only part of the problem and we don't 
want to make heroes out of gangsta rappers through this commit- 
tee, because I can assure you that they will not be uncomfortable 
about Congresswoman Cardiss Collins forming a committee of dis- 
tinguished citizens like these to talk about them. 

So we need to do less talking about how much we dislike or hate 
gangsta rap, and we need to come up with some ways in which to 
control the antisocial things that are discussed on these records. 

Mrs. Collins. Thank you, very much. I thank you, very much. 
This has been a good panel. We have had a wide ranging discus- 
sion with the opening panel of this series of hearings that we are 
going to have. 

We are now going to proceed to our next panel. I thank each of 
you for appearing before us, especially those of you who have come 
from very far distances and, Mr. Madison, we understand it took 
a lot for you to get here. We appreciate your coming. 

Our next panel will come forward: Mr. Nelson George, a journal- 
ist; Mr. Ernie Singleton, president. Black Music Division, MCA 
Records; Mr. David Harleston, president of Ral-Def Jam Recording; 
and Yo Yo, a recording artist with East West Records. 

Mr. Greorge, we are ready to begin with you, 


Mr. George. Madam Chairwoman, it is a very great pleasure, I 
feel very honored to be here. My name is Nelson George. 

I was a black music editor of Billboard Magazine from 1982 to 
1989, I have written several books on the evolution of black popu- 
lar music in the United States and worked in rap music in a num- 
ber of contexts, including motion pictures and charitable organiza- 

In 1989, I, along with a number of other people in the record 
business, organized a group called the "Stop The Violence Move- 
ment." It was a collective of rappers as well as young people in the 
record industry who put out a record, video, and a book looking at 
black-on-black violence, and in the course of that, we raised 
$300,000 for the National Urban League. So I have been very in- 
volved with rap and also its social side. 

I first became involved in rap music or aware of it in 1978 as 
a college student in New York City when tapes of rap music were 


being circulated along the streets of New York. I have seen it 
evolve from something that was for the youth, basically of South 
Bronx, as well as in Harlem. It has evolved into this multifaceted 
music that embraces everything from jazz-oriented rap, tri core 
quest, middle class rap, if you will, to Fresh Prince, Yo Yo rap, 
which deals with feminist issues, all the way to basketball players 
like Shaquille O'Neal making rap records. 

Rap music is a very complicated form. It is not — even within one 
artist, it is not easy to say an artist is a gangsta rapper or not a 
gangsta rapper. 

In that case, I would cite Tupac, who is someone who has been 
vilified and accused — which I think in the United States accused 
still means not guilty until proven guilty — has been accused of sev- 
eral things, but on his own record, a record called "Keep Your Head 
Up", which has been this year — last year was an anthem in praise 
of black woman. So within each artist there are many different im- 
pulses, "Some of which may be positive", and "Some of which may 
be negative." 

But to say that every artist because they have one record or one 
incident in their life that may be negative, to brand them with an 
overall stripe, I think is very dangerous. 

One of the things I want to talk about today, which has not been 
commented about very often in discussing this music, is music it- 
self. The maker of the best known gangsta rap records, name Dr. 
Dre Andre Young of Los Angeles California, former member of 
NWA, now a sole artist and producer of Snoop Doggy Dogg, has not 
been successful simply because he has spoken on CD disrespecting 
women or gangsterism. Dr. Dre is easily one of the top record pro- 
ducers in America today. His embrace of 1970's funk and expert ar- 
rangements are crucial to the sales of his records. 

To ignore the essential pleasure purely as a listening experience 
that one takes from his music is to be ignorant of how music as 
a product is consumed by those who buy it. 

The music is always first, the sound of the singer or rapper's 
voice is second, the lyrics, if the listener ever learns all the lyrics 
besides the hook, it is usually the third element. 

Gangsta rap often sells because it is musically superior to other 
forms of rap music or popular music. From the viewpoint of some- 
one who has been following rap since his days in Harlem, I must 
say I am proud of its overall development as both an innovative re- 
corded music and as a vehicle for social commentary. 

That a handful of artists have sold millions of records about 
black genocide — and make no mistake about it, only a handful of 
artists have benefited in the millions from this violent music — does 
not invalidate the art form certainly. 

Moreover, to discuss the subset of rap music, gangsta rap, out- 
side the forces that influence it, from the Hollywood action movies 
of Joe Silver to the consumerism of the 1980's, TV shows like Dy- 
nasty, to the influx of AIDS in the black community, to teenage un- 
emplo5rment, to the availability of 12 millimeter machine guns and 
automatic weapons that are available by trucks in any black com- 
munity in the United States, to 12 years of Republican govern- 
ment, to discussing rap out of this context is to rip this music out 


of context and to endow its creators with the profound power they 
don't believe they have. 

For me, the question of gangsta rap's role in America is not a 
question of the chicken or the egg. The egg in this case is the eco- 
nomic and social breakdowns that have torn at our cities since at 
least the riots of the 1960s and that shows few signs of really being 

The chicken is the culture of cynicism about government and 
verbal rebellion that rap represents. If tomorrow every offensive 
gangsta rap record was removed from our stores, our air waves and 
our video shows, there would still be random violence, teenage un- 
employment, teen pregnancy and drug trafficking. The only dif- 
ference is that the musical backing for our youth would change. 
Those conditions that frighten our Nation into congressional hear- 
ings on rap would continue. 

Just in conclusion, I would just like to say that one of the things 
about rap that has made it appealing, both to black teens and 
white teens around America, is the fact that it is rebel music and 
that part — its critique and part of its appeal is that it attacks 
things such as the Congress of the United States, Christianity. 

One of the big selling points, if you will, for a lot of artists about 
rap music is that it is anti-, anti- of most of the traditional value 
of the States. 

Public Enemy, part of their appeal — one of the most powerful 
groups in affecting rap music — is that it embraces the nation of 
Islam, and it is has been a very important part of propagating the 
influence of the nation of Islam around the United States. 

Many of the rappers in Los Angeles who have become very 
prominent also are devotees of the nation of Islam. 

Thank you very much. Madam Chairwoman. 

Mrs. Collins. Thank you. 

Mr. Singleton. 


Mr. Singleton. Good morning. Madam Chairwoman. It is very 
much an honor to be here and to be invited to speak on this issue. 

To you. Madam chairwoman, and the other members of the sub- 
committee, first of all I would like to identify myself. My name is 
Ernie Singleton, I am the president of the Black Music Division of 
MCA Records. Some of the acts on my label range from popular 
R&B artists such as Bobby Brown, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, 
Jody Watley, New Addition, Bell Biv Devoe, and also hip hop acts, 
to include the likes of Mary J. Blige, Wrecks-N-Effects, Jodeci, and 
Heavy D and the Boyz, just to name a few. 

The American music industry is one of the most energetic and 
imaginative businesses in society, employing hundreds of thou- 
sands of talented artists and musicians, as well as marketing, pro- 
motion, publicity, business affairs, marketing, manufacturing, and 
distribution personnel who produce recordings of remarkable diver- 
sity and remarkable depth. 

And while our industry has been allowed to flourish in an inno- 
vative and creative environment, we do not underestimate the sig- 
nificance and the importance of our social responsibilities and our 
role as good corporate citizens. 


Today, I am here to present to this committee my concerns, my 
personal views on this issue and the overview of the positive and 
important steps that the recording industry has taken in its re- 
sponsibility for explicit content of sound recordings, including those 
that contain explicit themes, like some of the so-called gangsta rap. 

In 1985, the Recording Industry Association of America reached 
an agreement with the National Parents and Teachers Association 
and the PMRC, or better known as the Parents Music Resource 

The agreement specified that music releases containing explicit 
lyrics, including explicit depictions of violence, be identified so that 
parents can make intelligent listening choices for their children. 

In 1990, after communicating with parents, record companies 
and retailers, we established through the RIAA a voluntary uni- 
form parental advisory logo. That logo is placed on all of our re- 
cordings that are considered to be containing explicit lyrics. 

The standardized label was implemented to increase overall 
consumer awareness of the advisory sticker and specifically to pro- 
vide parents with the single standardized and easily identifiable 
means of singling out records with explicit themes. 

Each record company in consultation with the artist determines 
which of these recordings will display that logo. 

If I may digress for a moment. Madam Chairwoman, I think you 
held up a CD that may not have been in accord with that, and that 
may be another issue totally separate and apart from the issue of 
the recording industry as a whole. 

The black and white logo shown, or the parental advisory logo is 
standard in size and in color. It is also standard in placement and 
is affixed to the bottom right comer of an album, cassette, or CD. 
It is affixed to the permanent packaging underneath the cellophane 
shrink wrap. 

The label measures 1 by Vi inch on cassettes and CD jewel boxes 
and 1 by Vi inch on albums. Let me add that this logo is actually 
printed on the CD or cassette cover and cannot be removed. 

The Parental Advisory Program, supplemented by retailer co- 
operation, is a positive response of the music industry and respon- 
sible corporate citizens to provide useful information to parents and 
guardians to assist them in deciding what their children should lis- 
ten to. 

While I am expressing my views as a record industry executive, 
I would also like to speak as a citizen and a father of 3 children 
between the ages of 16 and 23. I believe that the parental advisory 
logo and for that matter, any labeling, is no substitute for respon- 
sible parenting. 

The morals and ethics of our society are slowlv diminishing and 
that. Madam Chairwoman, is what I think needs to be addressed 
and changed. 

We must look at societal problems like our welfare system that 
encourages dependence and not empowerment. Societal disintegra- 
tion starts with factors like these, not the music. 

Rap, rap music and music in general, but more specifically rap 
music, is like a storm. It will not diminish until the societal woes 
that these young men and women so eloquently express in their 
music are attended to. 


If you try to stop it, just like a storm, it will take you with it. 
I think that no one here will disagree with me when I say that 
families with strong parental figures, quality education, caring 
communities and real jobs is what is needed. These are some of the 
solutions to the problems of violence in our society. 

Insuring the existence of those factors in the lives of young peo- 
ple involves some tough decisions at the governmental level and 
some tough decisions at the personal level. We can't simply abdi- 
cate our responsibilities as parents, legislators, or citizens by sin- 
gling out a few TV programs, a few movies or a few musical record- 

In closing, it would be fair to assume that there are some people 
in this room here today who have already made their decision to 
draw a conclusion about rap music and the artist. To those people, 
I ask that you open your minds and use today as an opportunity 
to take a closer look at the young people who are creating this 

These young men and women are passionate about what they 
feel. They are poetic. They are very innovative and creative in their 
expression, but if nothing else, at this meeting you should be able 
to come away with an awareness of the fears and frustrations that 
they are so constantly expressing, that is so deeply rooted in their 
spirits and in their lyrics. 

How can rap continually be blamed for the increased violence in 
our communities baffles me when the violence was here long before 
rap music and much longer than the gangsta rap music has been 
here. Rap artists verbalize their reality. They do not celebrate that 

Our children, who are these rap artists, are angry and they ex- 
press their anger in their Ijrrics. Many of the young men and 
women who rap today are considered outsiders by the mainstream 
of American society. Their reality and their world is one full of pov- 
erty, violence, alcoholism, drug abuse, racism, homelessness, hope- 
lessness, disrespect, just to name a few of the ills. They live in a 
world that few in this room, if any, could even survive in. 

I do not condone violence or the negative lyrics, but this is the 
reality of our impoverished inner cities and it is the reality of the 
American youth. 

Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. 

Mrs. Collins. Mr. Harleston. 


Mr. Harleston. Good morning, Madam Chairwoman. My name 
is David Harleston and I am president of Rush Associated Labels, 
or R.A.L., which has as its largest and most prolific division Def 
Jam Recordings, Incorporated. 

Def Jam recordings or Def Jam was founded in 1983 by Russell 
Simmons who has been widely recognized as the individual who 
brought hip hop to the cultural fore. Russell Simmons currently 
serves as our chief executive officer. 

R.A.L. is engaged primarily in the creation, marketing, pro- 
motion, and distribution of the spectrum of music that is known as 
hip hop. In 1993, hip hop music in all its forms accounted for ap- 
proximately 7.8 percent of the estimated $10.2 billion of music in 


the United States. Without question, hip hop has evolved into a 
major contributor to the music industry. 

This music and this culture have achieved a level of creative en- 
ergy which justifies our corporate commitment to the genre. Hip 
hop has provided an extraordinary avenue of artistic expression for 
African-American youth and it has economically empowered a gen- 
eration of artists, producers and others who have imported hip hop 
culture and music into areas such as fashion, film, advertising, 
comedy, television, and publishing. 

Madam Chairwoman, I would be less than candid if I did not ac- 
knowledge my concerns about this hearing. During the past year, 
the hip hop community has been the subject of intense scrutiny 
concerning the role of rap music in our culture. Some critics have 
suggested, for example, that rap music glorifies violence, degrades 
women, and erodes community values. 

I do not question the sincerity of those who have expressed those 
views. However, I strongly believe that those views are myopic. 

Let's be clear. Like all artists, hip hop artists are Droducts of 
their environment. Their environments have influenced who they 
are and the kinds of music that they make. Accordingly, hip hop 
artists frequently relate experiences which many find unsettling or 
uncomfortable. That is precisely the point that certain artists are 
trying to make. 

However, it is increasingly apparent that certain opponents of 
hip hop music are of the misguided view that if we do not hear 
about the issues raised and addressed in the music, then those is- 
sues will not exist. 

In fact, one could argue that efforts to suppress hip hop artists 
are efforts to ignore unpleasant realities that exist in America's 
backyard. Such a view simply denies reality. Silencing the mes- 
senger will not extinguish the problem. 

While I am here today to discuss hip hop culture and the record- 
ing industry, I hope that we can also begin a constructive conversa- 
tion about the conditions to which some members of our society are 
subjected, conditions which, in fact, make gangsterism appear to be 
a reasonable life choice. 

As a record company, Def Jam is essentially a manufacturer, 
marketer, promoter, and distributor of recorded music to consum- 
ers. Fundamentally, we discover, develop, and sell music. In so 
doing, we work closely with artists, managers and producers, all of 
whom have a direct and immediate interest in the success of a par- 
ticular recording. 

When we make a decision to sign an artist, that decision fully 
embraces the artist's vision. Our primary inquiry is whether the 
artist is authentic and distinctive. In our view, the dominant con- 
cern is that an artist write and rap from an important — ^from im- 
portant experiences in that artist's life. Those experiences may not 
be pretty or pleasant. They need only be real. 

It is for these reasons, therefore, that we do not require an artist 
to adhere to proscribed rules relating to lyrical content. Rather, in 
deciding whether, in our judgment, the work of a particular artist 
is of sufficient merit to warrant release, we ask only whether the 
work is true to the artist's vision as we understood that vision at 
the time we signed the artist. 


We also acknowledge the significance of lyric S3rmbolism in our 
artist's work. Like all recording artists, rap artists engage in meta- 
phor and imagery in order to make their points. Curiously, rap art- 
ists are rarely given credit for their use of metaphor. Rather, they 
are all too often held unfairly to a literal standard which is not ap- 
plied to creators and performers of other forms of art. 

Some critics of hip hop music have also suggested that the lyrics 
will bring about the very problems they address. Some have sug- 
gested, for example, that the music contributes to a preponderance 
of violence and misog5my in our communities. Of course, that sug- 
gests and ignores both history and reason. 

Violence and sexism in the African-American community and the 
United States generally clearly predate the rise in popularity of rap 

Moreover, tragic as it is, violence is something that many of our 
urban youth must confront regularly and sexism remains a per- 
nicious force throughout our society. As dimensions of our artist's 
experiences, these themes will obviously and inevitably find their 
way into the music. 

One of our most important functions as a company is to amplify 
the voices of African-American youth whose experiences have his- 
torically been ignored by mainstream America. Those voices are, at 
the moment, articulating bleak scenarios throughout urban Amer- 

The issue, however, is not whether to suppress, regulate, restrict, 
segregate, or otherwise curb the distribution of hip hop music. 
Rather, the issue is whether we, as a communitv and a Nation, are 
prepared to squarely address the very issues that have given rise 
to the lyrics that some find so troubling. 

That, Madam Chairwoman, is the challenge. Thank you. 


Mrs. Collins. Yo Yo. 

Ms. Whitaker. Hello, it is a pleasure to be here. Madam Chair- 
woman, the subcommittee. My name is Yolanda Whitaker, I am 
known as Yo Yo. I am on East West Records. 

I am out of south central Los Angeles, bom and raised. I am very 
involved in the music business. I have been for 5 years. Along with 
that, I am involved in an organization entitled the Intelligent Black 
Women's Coalition, which I have formed for many years now, 4 
years, and we have 9 chapters in different States, which help boost 
the self-esteem for young black teenagers. We also deal with vot- 
ing, teenage pregnancy, and education. 

We deal with non — this is a nonprofit organization. We do have 
fund-raisers. We donate to black women, battered women shelters, 
little league football teams that are brought up in the neighbor- 
hoods. We donate to premature babies, mainly from Martin Luther 
King Hospital, drug babies. 

On behalf of the rappers, we ask, where does it end? We see and 
hear violent acts every day, whether it may be through the eyes 
of the media, movie producers, or businesses. There was violence 
before rap and there will continue to be violence after rap. 

For example, how many times do we see the Rodney King beat- 
ing, the Lorena Bobbitt story, Tonya Harding, the Menendez trial? 


I can go on and on, but where does it end? Violence permeates our 
every day life. 

I am here to help you understand that there is a thing called 
context. When our lyrics are taken out of context, they take on a 
whole new meaning that you interpret as violence. There is a lan- 
guage difference from 20 years ago to now. Words change. We have 
a totally different meaning for the language we speak. 

That is why, if you don't understand, ask, and we will take the 
time to explain. You take the time to listen to the whole story. 

If you don't, our generation is lost. Those who block our music 
and refuse to take the whole story will never understand. Saying 
one is to respect our ancestors for what they have worked for is one 
thing, but saying that rap causes violence is another. 

People choose to point the fmger on us and censor our right to 
freedom of speech, but is that constitutional? 

Why is the so-called negative rap so popular? It is because nega- 
tivity is what surrounds us. The true rap listeners are surrounded 
by the negativity in the neighborhood and until you can help our 
situation, don't criticize the way we feel. 

Rap artists cannot be held accountable for why people are in jail. 
These jails have been filled with our black males and females since 
slavery, and yet, where does it end? 

This is the time for more autonomy. This is a time for each indi- 
vidual to take responsibility of their own actions. Rap cannot be 
the scapegoat. If we fail as a whole to acknowledge the real prob- 
lems that be face, then we will never resolve the problems. Jobs, 
education, home discipline, teen pregnancy, AIDS, homelessness is 
something that we all should focus on, not rap. 

Being from the hood, neighborhood, I can tell you that violence 
didn't start from a cassette tape that might have been popped into 
a home or car stereo system. Whitney Houston sells more records 
than any rapper. Why isn't that man's kids emulating her? Why is 
it our fault? We are the product of America your generation cre- 
ated. Don't shut us down. Hear us out. 

Now, is the time to focus on real villains, not the rap artists. I 
ask you. Madam Chairwoman, where does it end and when will it 

Thank you. 

Mrs. Collins. Mr. Singleton, there are many misconceptions 
about how the recording industry works, and I would like for you 
to explain to the members of our committee your relationship with 
the artists from the time that he or she gets a contract until a final 
recording is distributed, and specifically explain who makes the 
creative decisions. 

In other words, who has the final say in what that recording will 
contain if there are questions about a message. Mr. Singleton? 

Mr. Singleton. OK, Madam Chairwoman, the process varies 
from record company to record company. My relationship in dealing 
with an artist and signing an artist to the label, we — if an artist 
is brought in by a manager or if the artist in fact brings his own 
product in, they share with us their music. They give us a sense 
of their vision. 


Oftentimes, there may be a demo tape in terms of their produc- 
tion or their song quality or song style that they will present to us 
to give you a sense of what their artistic direction is. 

In giving us that artistic direction, they are not giving us the lay- 
out in songs. At this present moment in working with artists on 
the MCA label, artists present to us their songs or we solicit songs 
from various producers and song writers. 

Those songs are then submitted to the artist and artist's man- 
ager, and again, I am stumbling a little bit here because I under- 
stand we are talking about "gangsta rap." 

Mr. Singleton. As I sit here, you make the point clear that we 
do not have any "Gangsta rap on the MCA label." The artists I am 
referring to are people like Patti LaBelle. In the case of Heavy D, 
Heavy D goes in the studio and does his album in its entirety by 
himself. He selects the material with his A&R director. 

A&R people are people in the record companies who deal with 
the artists, producers, song writers. A&R stands for artists and 

In many cases, you will have an artist who will create the entire 
body of work and bring it to you. There are artists who work with 
producers to create that body of work and bring it to you. There 
are instances where artists work with various A&R people to find 
the music, songs, and production people to create the bodies of 
work, so there is no one way it is done. It varies, depending on the 
artists and creative people involved. 

Mrs. Collins. Mr. Harleston, how is it done at your shop? 

Mr. Harleston. It varies equally at Def-Jam. An artist, after 
being signed, and perhaps I should back up, but we learn about our 
artists through any number of sources. There is an A&R depart- 
ment, as there is in most record companies, that stands for artists 
and repertoire, and members of the A&R department are charged 
with, among other things, visiting clubs to determine if there are 
artists performing there live in whom we might have some interest. 

They listen to demo tapes that are sent in, solicited and unsolic- 
ited, to the company. They listen to other artists presently on the 
label, who by virtue of work in the studio or elsewhere have their 
ear to the ground and a sense of who might have qualities in which 
we might be interested. 

That artist is then presented to the chairman of the company, 
Russell Simmons, who talks with, meets with, listens to the con- 
cept underlying the perspective artist's work, and makes a rec- 
ommendation as to whether or not the artist should be signed. The 
signing process is in itself an extensive one. 

It is one in which we negotiate heavily with the artist's rep- 
resentatives or prospective artist's — at that point — representatives. 
Those number typically two; the artist's counsel, his or her lawyer, 
and the artist's manager, if the manager has yet been engaged at 
that time. 

The negotiation can take an3rwhere from 2 weeks to, in some 
cases, 3 months. Once the negotiation is completed, the contract 
has been drafted to reflect the points agreed upon in that negotia- 
tion, and the artist signs on. 

In its essential termination, that contract requires of the artist 
the obligation that he or she deliver a prescribed number of record- 


ings to us within a prescribed period of time, and in consideration 
of that, we are required to pay what are considered advances 
against royalty income that the artist would earn at such time as 
the recordings are sold at retail. 

I feel compelled to respond just briefly to a point that was made 
in the prior panel. With respect to Def-Jam, never, ever does the 
contract nor could the contract spell out, address, describe, define 
the lyrical content of the artist's recordings. That simply never 
happens, nor am I aware of it happening at any other record com- 

Now, we have the artist signed, and it is time for the artist to 
begin his or her work. The artist begins working with a producer. 
That producer is an individual who sometimes comes with the art- 
ist, if you will, when the artist is signed. The artist has already 
identified an individual or a group of individuals with whom he or 
she wants to work. 

If the artist does not have a producer, our A&R staff makes rec- 
ommendations. The artists meet with typically three, four or five, 
and makes some decisions about whom they feel most comfortable 

That producer and that artist then retire to the studio. Songs are 
written, lyrics are written, beats are created, experimented with, 
felt out. And after a period of time, typically demo recordings of the 
proposed album are furnished to us, the record company. 

The A&R department sits down with the artist and the producer 
at that time, listens to what the artist proposes to record, listens 
to those demo recordings, and makes comments on those demo re- 
cordings. The comments typically are directed toward the extent to 
which those recordings are consistent with the artist's vision, as we 
understood that vision when we signed the artist. They are not 
comments or views that are directed toward the sexual imagery, 
the violent imagery, specifically. They are comments directed to the 
body of work in its entirety. 

The fundamental question in its simplest form is, is this good 
music, is this good hip hop for this artist? And by "for this artist" 
I mean, as we understood what this artist's vision, dream, mission 
was when we signed the artist. 

Those comments are then discussed with the artist. The artist re- 
turns to the studio with the producer or the corps of producers, and 
continues working on the project. It is an iterative process. The art- 
ist rarely disappears and returns 3 months later, we are a finished 
recording. It is a process in which the artist seeks comment, not 
just from the record company, but typically from his or her col- 
leagues, from other producers, from time to time, journalists in 
order for that artist to develop a project that he or she can be 
proud of and support during the period of time the project is being 

Once the project is completed and delivered to us, the ball, if you 
will, moves from A&R into the marketing and promotion dimen- 
sions of the company. In those dimensions, employees meet with 
the artist to confirm their understanding of the artist's vision as 
the artist had defined it in both the music and at the time we 
signed him. 


The department comes up with plans and strategies for market- 
ing and promoting the record, plans and strategies which are 
unique to each record. These are, as I said, discussed with the art- 
ist, and a marketing plan is devised. 

At that point, the record is released, presumably the marketing 
plan is followed, unless we feel a need in the course of the sale of 
the record to alter that plan, because it is not having either the ef- 
fect or not reaching a demographic that we had anticipated, and 
over a period of 3 to 6, in a very successful case in hip hop, 9 or 
12 months, the record is selling. The artist is promoting it, and 
when that is over we are hopeful the artist returns to the studio 
to start it again. 

Mrs. Collins. There seems to be a great deal of effort put into 
the whole project. I was taking some notes as you went along, 
about the song being written and the beats being filled out, and 
whether a recording is good hip hop for the artist. You talked about 
a marketing strategy being devised, and the release of the record 
and you talked about the demographics to which it is to be mar- 
keted, but I didn't hear you at one time say who made the final 
decision about the lyrics. 

Mr. Singleton. May I respond to that first? 

Mrs. Collins. I want Mr. Harleston to respond to that, then I 
will get back to you. 

Mr. Harleston. It is a deliberative decision, and it is not a deci- 
sion about the Ijn-ics, per se. Part of what I am trying to convey 
and I think Mr. Singleton was conveying previously, is that this is 
not an inquiry or even a process that is unidimensional. We look 
at the entire body of the work. And it is not amenable to looking 
at lyrics and saying, these are no good or these are good. Now let's 
look at the music. 

Like all other art that I am aware of, we really must look at the 
body of work, the piece of art as a whole. It is a collaborative proc- 
ess. There may be a comment raised by a member of the A&R de- 
partment — this song doesn't seem right to me, this artist doesn't 
seem comfortable with this particular beat, why don't we try some- 
thing else. The artist hears it and says, "Gee, I wasn't comfortable 
with it", the producer thought this — it is a collaborative process. 
And it is unfortunately one simply not susceptible to the kind of 
segmentation that the prior, frankly, panel suggested, and that I 
have seen in written reports criticizing the way we do our work. 

Mrs. Collins. Mr. Singleton? 

Mr. Singleton. Madam Chairwoman, I think from record com- 
pany to record company, the answer to that might be a little bit 
different. At MCA, maybe over the last — since we began putting 
the parental advisory label on records, we began to realize that in 
order to avoid slippage in not knowing when a record merits a 
sticker versus when it didn't, that we had to redefine how we func- 
tioned internally within the record company. So there is a commit- 
tee of people, that includes even our Business Affairs Department, 
that reviews the lyrics once the songs are done and recorded and 
completed, and then the artist or producers turn in those songs, the 
tapes, as well as the Ijnncs. 

And we review those lyrics, and in reviewing those lyrics, that 
is what helps us to make the determination as to whether or not 


the parental advisory logo should be put on the record. And once 
that decision is made, we converse then with the artist and the art- 
ist's manager to make them aware that the parental advisory stick- 
er will be going on the record, and quite often artists have a tend- 
ency to hit the ceiling because that label is being put on the record 
because retailers have a different reaction and — some retailers 
have a different response as to whether a record that has the PA 
logo, the parental advisory logo or not. 

So at MCA, we actually review the lyrics of every album that is 
turned in. 

Mrs. Collins. This is for both you and Mr. Harleston. 

Do you ever say, "There is a standard here and there are some 
limits beyond which we will not go?" Do you ever get to that point 
if there is something written that you find just — that you just don't 
think should be recorded, words or deeds being portrayed that you 
just don't think should be recorded, do you ever say, "Well, we just 
can't do that?" 

Mr. Singleton. In our case, yes. There are points where we will 
see or feel that the lyrics or the song doesn't work or it doesn't com- 
plement what we choose to put out as a company, and we would 
make the decision or have a discussion with the artist. And often- 
times the artist will be willing to go in and make adjustments 
those songs. 

Mrs. Collins. Mr. Harleston? 

Mr. Harleston. We have certainly come across songs we found 
just artistically deficient, and we have refused to release songs on 
that basis, and indeed, as most record companies, don't release 
records that we don't like. 

Mrs. Collins. If the lyrics are extremely offensive to the vast 
majority of people who might be listening to them, the vast major- 
ity, not just a small segmented group or those that buy the record- 
ings, but extremely offensive to most people in our society, would 
you then say that you have a standard which you will not go be- 

Mr. Harleston. I guess I can only speak on our practice to date, 
and the cases or matters that have come before us in terms of 
songs or recordings. We have not made that judgment. Whether 
that would happen in the future, whether one could conceive of or 
concoct lyrics, songs that would cause us to make that judgment, 
I just don't know. 

Mrs. Collins. In your testimony, Mr. Harleston, you state that 
at Def-Jam recordings, when you make a decision to sign an artist, 
your dominant concern is that the artist write and rap from impor- 
tant experiences in that artist's life. You continue to say that those 
experiences may not be pretty or pleasant but they need to be real. 

Yet, in a recent Wall Street Journal article that we have been 
fanning around up here, it talks about this young lady. Boss, 
Lichelle, which I understand is her name, and the article entitled, 
"How a Nice Middle-Class Girl Evolved Into a Gangsta Rapper." 
And in this article, she describes how she was not able to get a re- 
cording contract until she started doing gangsta rap. 

Now, how is it that a company who prides itself on promoting au- 
thentic voices could have such an artist? As I understand it, she 
is on your label. Is that right? 


Mr. Harleston. Yes, Boss is on D.J. West. 

Mrs. Collins. So how could this have happened? 

Mr. Harleston. First, if I could address the factual inaccuracies 
both in that article and in the prior panel. 

Mrs. Collins. OK. 

Mr. Harleston. When Boss was signed to us. Boss was Boss. 
That is to say, Boss is what she is now. 

Mrs. Collins. So you didn't change her? 

Mr. Harleston. Absolutely not. As a factual matter, we have 
never even attempted to do that with any artist. I suspect every 
other record company is the same. 

Lichelle, professionally known as Boss, is an extremely exciting 
artist who made the decision when we became aware of her to cre- 
ate a character, to create a persona that she thought reflected a 
sentiment, a theme, a feeling among a whole host of women in the 
hip-hop community, and men, and that was of a hard-core female. 

And this persona, and I encourage those who have made ref- 
erence to Boss and who have read that article to listen to the entire 
Boss album to get a full understanding of the dimensions of that 
persona. Boss, the character, as opposed to Lichelle the individual, 
and we should note that characters in music, personas in music are 
nothing unique to hip hop. I was thinking about other artists like 
Cindy Lauper, David Bowie when he adopted the Ziggy Stardust 
persona, and in many respects Madonna, for some reason I think 
we are comfortable distinguishing between the on stage or perform- 
ance personas of those artists and their off stage private personas. 

In hip hop, people have a little more of a tough time doing that. 
I am not quite sure why. 

But if you listen to the entire album and get a full sense of what 
this persona is, you understand that this is a frustrated, angry, 
and frankly a little bit crazy person, member of the hard-core hip- 
hop community. She is very experienced sexually, she has been in- 
volved with drugs, the persona, now, not the individual, Lichelle. 

And really she paints a movie-like picture of the individual, the 
character, and the situations in which she finds herself. I think it 
is very important to understand, and in my statement you recall 
I made reference to the inability of a number of listeners to accord 
hip-hop artists credit for the kinds of uses of metaphors and im- 
agery and other techniques that in other literary and artistic con- 
texts are presumed, frankly, with respect the artist concerned. 

But when viewed in that context, the character. Boss, is very 
real. And that is the story. 

Mrs. Collins. In The Wall Street Journal article, Yo Yo, Boss 
seems to say — and this is a direct quote, she says, "I am a 
businessperson, I know what I am doing, I know how to make it 
in this business." While there may be some authentic gangsta rap- 
pers out there, do you believe that a large number of the people 
who do this are just smart business people who just want to sell 
their music? 

Ms. Whitaker. I am pretty sure you probably do have outsiders 
looking in saying, well, what is selling right now, is rap — rap is 
what they are listening to and rap is what is hot. Some young 
teens do feel like the only way out is rap, out of the neighborhood, 


out of — ^trying to survive. Yes, I do agree that some people feel like 
that. In all cases, that is not true. 
Mrs. Collins. Would you say- 

Ms. Whitaker. You have true artists 

Mrs. Collins. Go ahead. 

Ms. Whitaker. You have true artists and you have artists who 
feel what they say. I am a true artist. I feel what I say. I talk 
about different issues, issues that my mother might not agree with. 
I speak words that my mother may not agree with. I say things 
that mavbe only the kids I grew up with, the kids I go to school 
with ana the kids I hang out with might be able to understand. 

My mother might not be able to understand everything that I 
identify with. The way I dress, the way I do my hair, the lipstick 
1 wear, but years ago in my mother's generation, her mother 
couldn't understand. 

Mrs. Collins. That is certainly true, because I don't understand 
the things that my son did, and my mother didn't understand the 
things I did, but somewhere along the line we had a meeting of the 
minds. I am sure that is going to happen in all cases as each gen- 
eration grows into an older generation. 

Can you tell me whether large numbers of people who get into 
this business do so simply to make the money or because they have 
a true feeling as you do about what they want to say in their re- 

Ms. Whitaker. I couldn't answer that question directly because 
I don't know why each individual chose to become an entertainer 
in the music business, rap business. 

Mrs. Collins. In the rap business? 

Ms. Whitaker. I cannot answer the question why each individ- 
ual chose to be a rapper. I chose to be a rapper because it was 
something that I felt like I wanted to get into, I was talented in 
all areas as well as in poetry, not only into creating a culture with 
my music. 

Mrs. Collins. Let me ask you this question. In U.S.A. Today in 
October, they had an article called 'Talking Tough", and I know 
you have seen this already, and they are talking about the "Hip- 
Hop Culture and Female Rappers Go With the Gangsta Flow", that 
is the title of the article. 

But it says in here, Yo Yo turns down her show if young kids 
are there. She feels the trend has gone too far and plans to change 
her image, and it quotes you as saying, "I am so disappointed with 
the record companies, now they are only looking for street rappers, 
no diversity." 

Is that a true statement? If so, why did you make the statement 
and in what context did you make it? 

Ms. Whitaker. That statement might have been took out of con- 
text. I didn't say it like it is written up in the article. What I said 
was, when I perform in front of kids, I do censor my rap, when I 
know there are kids in the audience, I tend to change words be- 
cause I know kids are out there listening to my music. My music 
has a sticker on it that says explicit l3rrics on the cover of my 

When children do come out to hear my music, or some public 
event where everyone is coming out or it is a free event, I tend to 


change my music only for the safety of the kids, because it is pub- 
lic, it is free, and the parents are with their kids, and I know that 
it is a kid event. That is like me going to Disneyland, or going out 
in the public speaking to kids and using profane words. 

I don't know how 12-year old kids are walking into stores and 
buying $17.99 tapes and CD's. I don't understand how it is happen- 

Mrs. Collins. I believe it was Mr. Singleton — and I put the testi- 
mony down — who talked about the labeling. Which one of you 
talked about the labeling requirements? 

Yes, Mr. Singleton, you talked about the labeling requirements 
and about having met with the parents. Is the advisory you have 
on here something agreed to by the PTA and others? 

Mr. Singleton. Yes, and PMRC. 

Mrs. Collins. And there was something in the testimony that I 
pulled out and circled that said that most of the time, as I under- 
stand it, when these CD's and cassettes are being purchased, the 
parents aren't buying them. The kids are the ones who go to the 
record stores and buy them. So even though there is an advisory 
on there, the kids aren't likely to pay any attention to it. 

As a matter of fact, it would seem to me almost an incentive for 
an inquisitive kid to want to buy it to see what the thing says. The 
burden should be placed on the parent, which is where it should 
be, no doubt about that, that is where it should be. But, I just won- 
der how effective you think this advisory is and whether you think 
more can be done? 

You will recall the first panel said that mere labeling was not 
enough. Tell me what you think about that, any of you sitting at 
the table. 

Mr. Singleton. I think there is a need for more education if the 
labeling is being ignored — education of the retailers and a lot of are 
retailers doing a lot about it. A lot of retailers already do things 
to separate the music and make it where — some of them have rules 
that if you are not 18 or older, you can't buy the music. 

In various communities, there are different postures that people 
take on the — if I may read it, there is a piece here, the National 
Association of Recording — record merchandisers, which is a major 
organization of retailers around the country, in America, and in 
reference to that same thing, it makes reference here, I will just 
read a portion of this, it says, "Every store which tries hard to 
work with local communities finds the message is mixed. Some 
stores which have implemented the 18-to-buy policies at the urging 
of the community find after a period of months that they received 
as much feedback from parents who are angry that they had to ac- 
company the teenager to buy a piece of music as they receive sup- 
port from parents who were angry about a piece of music a teen- 
ager had bought unchaperoned." 

So there are mixed feelings and ways various retailers are han- 
dling it. And to respond to what Don and Dr. Tucker and Mr. 
Madison was referring to, I think that maybe there is a need — and 
I feel these hearings are bringing that about as well — a need for 
more communication, more awareness, and if there are deficiencies 
in the system, let's identify what they are and find ways to adjust 
or correct that. 


But more importantly, it is critical that we find ways to redefine 
upgrading our moral standards. I think we need to figure out why 
they are saying what they are saying. There is anger, there is rage, 
there is some lack of communication, and it is not unusual for peo- 
ple that are in their early 20's to be defiant, to feel like they can 
rule and conquer all. It comes with youth, it comes with the inexpe- 
rience of being a young adult as opposed to being a seasoned and 
experienced adult. Only after you have lived can you relate to the 
experience of an adult. 

But there are a lot of the young artists who are very mature, and 
if you listen to what they are saying and how they are sa3dng it, 
they are very eloquent, they are very artful, their statements are 
very profound. We seem to harp on the fact that it is vulgar and 
obscene. They live in a vulgar and obscene environment. Teen preg- 
nancies — ^babies having babies is profane. 

So we need to address, I think, some of the societal problems to 
correct the issue that our children are expressing, which emanates 
from the environment in which they live, and it is also the reason 
why not just black kids but white kids in record numbers buy the 
music, because they relate to this reality. 

And I think it was — I am trying to recall the gentleman's name 
who made the comment that rap music is the CNN of the inner 
city — Chuck D of Public Enemy — and it is that. 

Mr. George. Madam Chairwoman, can I address the question? 

My problem with further regulation and stickering of records 
based on even an individual song that is within any artist's rep- 
ertoire, with any 12 songs, there may be one song that could be ob- 
jectionable to someone. Public Enemy, which is a group most peo- 
ple seem to hold up as a group that has strong messages, they have 
been attacked on two of their albums for misogjmy on certain cuts. 

If you label them that kids under 18 can't buy a Public Enemy 
album, you are taking the other 10 songs talking about the Black 
Panthers or Louis Farrakhan, which are all valid artistic area, and 
you are saying a whole group of people who have already been 
turned on to the ideas of Public Enemy can no longer have access 
to that material. 

I am just worried when we get into this whole idea of stickering 
or additional restrictions, we are restricting an artist who may 
have 10 messages on one album and one may be objectionable. 
That is what I am very — it is more complex than saying sticker 
and restrict. I am very concerned about that. 

Mr. Harleston. If I could just make one additional comment. In 
my view, labeling is really — or the current labeling practice is real- 
ly as effective as parents choose to make it. I fully acknowledge the 
difficulty of raising children, particularly in urban America, young 
African-American children. 

It is tough out there. But that difficulty does in no way diminish 
the responsibilities that attach to parenting. It means having, I 
think, discussions with kids and families about what it is they are 
listening to and indeed why it is they are listening to it. I think 
not only does that give a parent greater insight as to what is in 
that child's mind but also insight into the larger issues with which 
that parent may not be familiar, may not have as great an under- 
standing as he or she could. 


Mrs. Collins. Mr, Singleton, in your testimony you state that 
MCA Records doesn't underestimate the significance and impor- 
tance of social responsibility in your role as a good corporate citi- 
zen. Is it socially responsible and good corporate citizenry to make 
millions of dollars off of sexually explicit or graphically violent 
lyrics that are sometimes used in gangsta rap? 

Either of you, or anybody at the table. 

Mr. Singleton. All fairness, I would prefer passing that on to 
someone else. We do not have any gangsta rap music on the MCA 

Mrs. Collins. Mr. Harleston? 

Mr. Harleston. The question I think presumes the kind of al- 
most oversimplified analysis or definition, rather, of gangsta rap or 
of the issue of the problem. Clearly as a company we feel a sense 
of social responsibility. 

We feel that responsibility to our community's African-Ameri- 
cans, and we feel that responsibility to the very individuals who 
are raising the issues that we are discussing today. In many re- 
spects, and I think everyone would acknowledge that the purpose 
of what has been called gangsta rap here today has been served, 
because we are talking about it, and it is upsetting people. I don't 
think the response is making a lot of sense, because the response 
is, let's stop the expression or the definition or the articulation of 
the problem, rather than what I think it should be, which is let's 
address the problem, let's address the problems in education, let's 
address the problems in unemplojrment, let's address the problems 
that are plaguing and have plagued our community. 

Larger than that is my view that this is not a debate or discus- 
sion over who owns the civil rights movement. I think everyone at 
this table both understands and recognizes how we at this table 
have benefitted from a profoundly important program, the most 
profoundly important movement in this country. 

What is curious is that gangsta rappers, as they have been char- 
acterized here today, are telling us that the work is not done. 
Gangsta rappers, as they have been described here today, are tell- 
ing us we have got to keep moving, because the demands that we 
imposed on this country and this government in the 1960s have not 
been met, and if we think that the struggle or the fight is over, we 
are kidding ourselves. 

And that message is profoundly important. So certainly we feel 
a sense of social responsibility. We feel it to the community which 
includes the very kids who are making us aware of what is going 
on in this music. 

Mr. George. Madam Chairwoman, I would like to just slightly 
address, again, since I am the only sort of music critic here, ad- 
dress the question of music and artistry. I for one — I found the 
Snoop Doggy Dogg album cover offensive. I have the CD in my of- 
fice flipped over so I see Snoop's face and not the cartoon. There 
are overall things that are objectionable. At the same time, there 
are expressions of feeling, expressions of emotion that is are very 
much in touch with the feelings of young America. 

I would say, cite, for example, in the last year, there has been 
at least three or four, maybe even five videos that have been made 
by artists associated with gangsta rap that are funerals as the cen- 


terpiece of their videos. The reason they had funerals in the center- 
piece of their videos is that the songs deal in violent imagery but 
they are about the end product of that violence. 

Ice Cube has a song that talks about violence specifically, talks 
about death in the black community specifically, but the context of 
that discussion is that it shows the end point of death and the kind 
of sadness with a loss the gangsta rappers feel. 

A lot of this music talks about people who have gone, passed, 
died. From other records, not necessarily gangsta rap, such as the 
record — "Reminisce" by T. L. Smooth, that also deals with the idea 
of death, of loss. Of a lot of stuff at that goes under the banner of 
gangsta rap, because it may have curse words or explicit violence, 
the context of the discussion is about death itself and about the im- 
pact of death on the artist describing it. 

So again, I must say when we discuss these records, we must 
make sure we are putting them in the proper context. 

Mrs. Collins. Well, Mr. Cornelius made a distinction between 
hard-core and gangsta rap. Do you make that same distinction? 

Mr. George. I don't know if you can totally use the phrase hard- 
core. I tend to associate hard-core — ^this is a regional discussion to 
some degree, in gangsta rap as we know it and discuss it, tends 
to be a phenomenon of Los Angeles, Calif. 

There are other branches of it, but the majority of the artists are 
from Los Angeles, and I think the reason gangsta rap came out of 
Los Angeles has to do with the particular conditions of that city. 
The gang culture there has been there for 20 years or so. It is 
much more intense. 

The idea of the drive-by shooting, which has become part of our 
lexicon in this country, is something that is foreign to New York, 
foreign to Philadelphia, foreign to DC. It is very much a product 
of that environment. So part of this discussion of gangsta rap has 
to focus in on the particulars of Los Angeles, south central. 

Ms. Whitaker. I was saying, being from Los Angeles and going 
over to the East Coast, there is a difference, they are more cul- 
turally motivated than the West Coast, I feel. I feel the West Coast 
are so involved with gangs, drugs, it is like they are locked into a 
cave. It is like they are shelled in. You know when you are in the 
neighborhood of the young gang bangers, or just the black neigh- 
borhood. You know when you are in the hood, and you know when 
you are out of the hood. And it is like that everywhere you go. 

I think that West Coast rappers tend to be more hard-core, 
which you would call it, because reality of Los Angeles or the West 
Coast is so hard. We can't run from the problem that surrounds us. 
If we talk about the situations that may be detrimental to some- 
one's ears, they may feel, or may be harmful to a child, you may 
feel, it is reality, and kids are listening to it because they see it, 
and they don't see it from your eyes, like you see it. 

They see it from looking at it. They see it from across the street, 
they see it from their mother, using drugs. They see it from bums 
laying on the comer. They see it from the tore-up neighborhoods 
and drive-by shootings. 

So it is not as harsh as you make it seem. It is reality for us. 
These words are not as intimidating to me as they are to you, al- 
though I am a feminist and although I will not and will never let 


anyone call me a "bitch" or a "ho." I am not offended when the 
word is used, because it has become a slang word in the neighbor- 
hood. That is not as intimidating as my mother may take it or 
someone else may take it. 

Mr. George. Madam Chairwoman, I want to continue to put this 
in a context. We haven't really done that totally. Gangsta rap as 
we know it as a genre of music, has its roots in the mid-1980's. 
There are a couple artists you might cite, particularly Ice T, who 
made albums in the 1980's. 

One of the things very clear about the evolution of this music is 
that rap music got more intense and violent when crack cocaine be- 
came one of the leading forces of economics in the black commu- 
nity. You can almost look at the indices of gangsta rap being cre- 
ated, particularly 1989, 1988, when Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, et cetera 
came out of. 

Much of the material deals with crack cocaine, especially that pe- 
riod. The amount of violence in the black community in cities like 
DC, for example, New York City, L.A., all escalated with the intro- 
duction of crack cocaine. The gangs who had so often been in L.A. 
for years and years in the black community, became much more 
dangerous, violent, in fact, became national concerns, in the sense 
that when crack cocaine became a viable tool for the expansion of 
their criminal enterprises. 

Gangsta rap is very much a reflection of this new environment 
that was created by crack cocaine. You can look — gangsta rap as 
we describe it and as we have discussed, from 1989 or 1988 to 
now — ^before that there were always records that were violent, like 
the message in 1984 that dealt with social reality. But the inten- 
sity of violence in rap music is directly related to the intensity of 
violence in the black community. 

If I had the time I could make a chart that would show you ex- 
actly the amount of violence, the incarceration of young black men, 
and the degree, the number of gangsta rap records beginning to be 

Mrs. Collins. That is interesting. You said, if you had time you 
could do that. I would like to ask you to make such a chart and 
send it to the subcommittee, because I would like to see the cor- 
relations that you have there. 

Mr. George. I will work on that when I get back to New York. 

Mrs. Collins. Thank you very much. I am kind of stuck on this 
question, so I am going to keep on asking it for a little bit, anyway. 

Mr. Singleton, you state the morals and ethics of our society are 
diminishing, and we have to look at societal problems, something 
the Congress doing right now, and you further state that societal 
integration starts with factors like these and not with music. 

But now the question is, are you seriously suggesting that the 
vulgar lyrics in gangsta rap or whatever you want to call it, plays 
no part at all in the further disintegration of morals and ethics our 

Somebody in the first panel mentioned the chicken and the egg 
issue. What is your response to that? 

Mr. Singleton. I am not saying it doesn't have any bearings on 
the problems in our society, but it appears as though a finger is 


being pointed at rap music as being the problem, when we are see- 
ing more the effects of a much broader problem. It is almost like 
in the days of segregation. I didn't agree with the fact that we had 
to drink from the colored-only water fountains, but that wasn't the 
problem. That was a little bit of a much bigger problem. 

When Rosa Parks had to sit in the back of the bus, I am sure 
she didn't agree with that, as none of us agreed with it. In fact it 
didn't matter to me whether I sit in the back of the bus or not, just 
don't make me move once I sit down. But that wasn't the problem, 
where we sat. It was more a symptom of a much bigger problem. 

All I am saying, Congress woman, is that there is a much bigger 
problem and rap is being made the scapegoat of something that is 
much, much broader than the rap artists. In the spirit of fairness, 
the record industry and the record companies are being blamed and 
pointed fingers at for something that our children created? Major 
record companies didn't create this music. 

Mrs. Collins. Did they exploit it? 

Mr. Singleton. They didn't exploit it either. Madam Chair- 
woman. Major record companies and retailers were avoiding this 
music for a long time. This music took over a major, major share 
of the marketplace. 

And again, I sit here before you, it was an honor because you 
asked, as it is an honor to have so many Representatives, African- 
American Representatives in Congress. There is no Congress per- 
son that would ask me to do anything that I wouldn't do in terms 
of moral responsibility and our commitment of what we need to do. 
Whether I was working for MCA or working for no one, I would be 
here, because I understand the call, and I understand the need to 
address the issue. 

But the point I am trying to make here is that if we are going 
to point fingers, we really need to stop and hopefully if nothing else 
happens, as I said earlier, let's identify the real problems. Let's not 
put a Band-Aid on what appears to be broke. 

The problem is much bigger than — and everybody here is saying 
it, even the people who spoke, the other panel who spoke, they 
made the same references in terms of what is going on in our inner 
cities. It is not an easy problem to solve. 

I can't sit here and act like I am so intelligent as to what goes 
on in Congress and government to legislate, and tell you, Congress- 
woman, or the Senate or the government how to correct these prob- 
lems. All I am saying is, please don't point fingers at — ^we go out 
of our way to make our artists be community sensitive. One of the 
fundamental things we tell an artist is, if you are not going to give 
back to the community, we are not even interested. We are not 
even interested. 

It is imperative that the artists understand they have got to give 
back to the community, that it is so important, that our children 
are given hope, our education system seems to be failed. So yes, I 
am saying a lot of things. We have a welfare system that pro- 
motes — that a woman — ^that there is no man in the household, for 
a woman to be on welfare. 

So it is encouraging a family to be raised, whether it is a boy- 
friend or whatever kind of spouse that is living with the woman, 


women are encouraged to not have a man present, so the children 
therefore do not have a manly figure there to be raised. 

I am number 9 of 13 children. My mother and father fathered all 
13 of us. I don't relate to that world of children being bom and 
raised without both parents being present or without parental di- 
rection or guidance. Again, we have an inadequate system in our 
welfare system that opens the door. 

We talk about the crack problem that exists. What about the 
crack mothers and fathers of the last 20 years and where are their 
children and what are they doing? Some of our problems are much, 
much, much bigger than any song you hear from Tupac Shakur or 
Snoop Doggy Dogg. The graphics of the lyrics and the graphicness 
of the packaging is a part of a problem that is a lot, lot bigger. 

I have 3 children, a 16-year-old honor student, very athletic in 
sports. I have a 22-year-old daughter at Xavier University in New 
Orleans and a 22-year-old son in New Orleans. I have a stake here. 
But my children, Congresswoman, are your children. 

When we as a society accept our children and not shun the re- 
sponsibility of another's children — when I see people going into a 
parking lot because of somebody taking their car or whatever the 
term is, a car banging, that concerns me, that affects my commu- 
nity as well. These problems are so broad based, they affect our 
real estate, they affect our community, they affect our economic 

I think Congresswoman Waters is a prime example that I see as 
a role model that I know, she is one of the few politicians, and this 
is nothing against any other politician, but she is one of the few 
politicians that I know the rap community adores and respects be- 
cause she gets in the trenches with them. There is a sensitivity 
level there or a relatability that I think brings about a trust that, 
you know, I love Jesse and — there are so many rappers I love, and 
I hear different things. 

It is important that those of us who are leaders begin to have 
dialogue with the Yo Yo's of the world or the Ice Ts or the Ice 
Cubes. Let's figure out what is wrong, why are they sa5dng what 
they are saying? 

Mr. George. Madam Chairwoman, I would like to add something 
else. I think one of the things that wasn't done earlier that we need 
to do is discuss the difference between what MCA records is and 
what Def-Jam records is in relation to the overall development of 
rap music. That is the rap music from its earliest roots in New 
York City in the early 1980's was the music made a independent 
labels, put out by independent labels, mostly initially black-owned. 
Sylvia Robinson, a recording artist, Koshidya Hill records out of 
New Jersey. 

For most of rap's history up until 1987 or so, rap music was to- 
tally an independent product. They were all independent entities 
not involved with major corporate structures. 

In 1987 or so, I believe, Russell Simmons and Def-Jam made a 
deal with CBS Records for distribution. In the wake of that deal, 
a number of other independent labels such as Tommy Boy, all inde- 
pendent labels, made deals for distribution of the product. 

But the actual product itself came through independent labels. 
To this day, now in 1994, Def-Jam basically is an autonomous orga- 


nization that makes the records it wants to make. Tommy Boy does 
likewise, and they have a deal with Warner Brothers. These inde- 
pendently owned companies are basically the lifeblood of rap music. 
The major labels only in the last few years have signed rap artists 
directly to their labels. 

To this day, a lot of the records that are being objected about, 
such as things made by 2 Live Crew, records made by Ice Cube, 
Ice T, now most of MWA's products, are independent labels still. 
These labels are not affiliated with major corporations. 

I just don't want anyone to get the feeling that — I get the subtext 
that is there is a cabal of rich white men, sitting in big towers on 
sixth avenue, deciding that we should put these records out. That 
is not how rap music works. It works by entrepreneurs, mostly 
black, make the records for an audience, mostly black, and now the 
music has crossed over to whites, to some degree, but it is still very 
much a black-created, black-directed, black-targeted product. 

Uptown Records is owned by a young man named Andre Harrel, 
an ex-rapper himself, which is distributed by MCA, but Andre is 
fully aware and in control of the product that comes out. 

So I just want to put it in context that this music is very much 
a product of our community, very much a product of our young 
business community, and I guess a subset of that discussion is that 
in the last 10 years — I started in the record business as a writer 
in really 1981, it was my first real job. I am a product of rap music 
in the sense that my career as a writer has been elevated and in- 
formed by the development of this music. 

I can parallel my career and my development as a writer by my 
ability to write about rap music at a point when no one wanted to 
write about it 10 years ago. And most of the people I know who 
are my friends were all young men in New York City in the late 
1970's, early 1980's, trying to find our way into the business, and 
rap music has funneled out, and we have done well and the people 
who came up behind us have done well. 

There is an industry that did not exist prior to rap music's cre- 
ation, that was a point of entry into a business that was locked out 
for black people. There are so many black college graduates, so 
many 25- to 30-year-old black men and women employed in the 
record industry in a wide range of activities because of this music. 

I just think we need to understand the role of rap music both as 
an economic force within the black community, as an employment 
source, and as a cultural source. Rap is a multifaceted environ- 
ment, and gangsta rap as we know it, is but one factor in an over- 
all tapestry of music. So let's put that in context. 

Thank you very much. 

Ms. Whitaker. I would like to add, if I can, there are many 
forms of rap music. There is not just gangsta rap, hard-core rap. 
There are many forms of rap. Fresh Prince of Belair is a rapper, 
an artist now on TV, what is the name of the show? Fresh Prince 
of Belair. 

I wonder, why does the bad images or the images that we say, 
or you say, not me, you say are bad images, so popular? Why is 
Snoop Doggy Dogg going out in a day and selling 3 million albums? 
Why are those just the ones that you point the finger at. Tupac, 
these guys are selling millions of albums. They are the requests. 


People are not going out on the street comers passing these 
tapes out sa3dng they are free. People are going to stores and pur- 
chasing these tapes. 

People want to hear this music. I don't understand how the dis- 
cussion becomes so — I understand how the discussion becomes so 
big, because parents are now pa3dng attention to what their kids 
are listening to, and wondering why they are listening to this 
music. But you have to take a look around and take a look at what 
these kids feel. 

They go out and buy the music because they feel for this type 
of music. If I don't feel — I don't feel for rock and roll, and I don't 
go purchase rock and roll. I don't feel for certain types of music, 
and I don't purchase certain music. If certain music offends me, I 
don't purchase it, I don't listen to it, and if I choose not to buy it, 
that is my choice. 

People go out and they purchase this music. They choose to listen 
to this music. How can you say, I don't want you to listen to that 
music when they choose to listen to this music? I think parents 
need to start disciplining their children, being more involved in 
home activities. 

There are too many single parents. There are not enough home 
morals for these kids. That is why you have so many 12-year olds 
listening to rap tapes. If your child can get ahold of a rap tape, can 
he get ahold of a porno movie, question turn on HBO and see what 
he wants. He can get ahold of Playboy Magazine. 

When you attack rap, you need to attack every situation, because 
rap is not the key factor here. And the lyrics are the key factors 

Mrs. Collins. In this Congress, there is a tremendous discussion 
going on now about these issues. You mentioned that it is not just 
rap, that when they turn on television, there is violence, et cetera. 
There is a tremendous discussion going on in this committee, not 
in this subcommittee but in this Committee of Energy and Com- 
merce about the violence that is on television and cable. That is 
going on right now. 

The Congress has a responsibility. When there are tremendous 
issues that are of concern to the public, we must take a look at 
those issues. I said in my opening statement that I am not seeking 
to do doing anj^hing about First Amendment rights. I don't believe 
you can legislate morality. I think it is something that has to come 
from within, whether it comes from within the home, the church, 
or wherever it is, but it has to come from within. If there is any- 
thing we hope to do, it is to raise the consciousness. So far as the 
music is concerned, there is nothing I see wrong with "the music", 
per se, with the beat. 

The problem that many people have, which is part of the subject 
of this hearing, is that the lyrics are offensive to many people. 
Now, whether or not you in the industry find it 

Ms. Whitaker. Who are they offending? Who is putting the tape 
in the tape cassette and listening to it? 

Mrs. Collins. The children — the parents are the ones who are 
beginning to complain. That is why we have to find out what is 
going on here. 


There is a whole industry that is talking about these matters, 
and these are matters that come before everyone. This has to be 
looked at from every point of view that is involved here. 

So the industry, of course, is going to say, we are doing nothing 
wrong. I am not here to choose whether you are right or wrong. 
Frankly, I don't really see the difference. As long as a parent wants 
his child to listen to this music, that is a parent's responsibility. 
As long as a parent gives a child "X" number of dollars for allow- 
ance and they can spend that money any way they want to, that 
is OK by me. But it is those large numbers of parents who say we 
don't want our children hearing this, we don't want our children 
watching television and seeing all these kinds of things, we want 
better labeling, we want certain things taken off the air. Those are 
the things that come before government. 

I am not one to talk about labeling in any real sense. I asked the 
question because I wanted to know. Is this label sufficient? 

What do you think about it? You who are in the industry, I am 
trying to get your assessment, do you think this is adequate or 
don't you? 

One member of your industry has said it is adequate. Another 
has said it is not adequate and that there are other things that can 
be done. Someone suggested you might put an **X" on there the way 
you do with movies. Somebody mentioned something about the 
FCC. There are all kinds of remedies and one remedy is to do noth- 
ing. We all understand that. 

But we are about the business of finding out what is going on. 
Someone stated that everyone is involved in rearing children. We 
all know the old African statement that it takes everyone in the 
village to raise a child. I believe that. But we are about the busi- 
ness of finding out what is going on here. We aren't about the busi- 
ness of criticizing anybody. Everybody has the right to make a liv- 
ing. But we also have a right to know what they are doing. That 
is what we are trying to find out here and that is what we are 
going to find out here. 

Mr. George, on the one hand, you say gangsta rap popularizes 
the use of guns and then you say that these records have no influ- 
ence on our children. You say, gangsta rap has played the same 
role of popularizing guns in American mainstream entertainment 
as movies. 

How can you reconcile these positions? They are opposed, it 
seems to me. 

Mr. George. Well, I don't see how I can criticize and condemn 
totally, let's say. Dr. Dre for having a gun in a video, when I can 
go on the subways of New York City and see a poster for Steven 
Seagal's movie which opens up today where he has a loaded auto- 
matic weapon prominently in his hand, like this. 

So I am just saying in terms of context of American society, to 
say that this Tupac or Dr. Dre has more impact than Steven 
Seagal or Arnold Schwarzenegger, I cannot say that. I do not think 
that argument can be made, precisely because Steven Seagal and 
Arnold Schwarzenegger have the access of giant billboards, as well 
as commercials, as well as movies, as well as TV talk shows to go 
on and promote their product. 


When a 19-year-old-black guy who makes a record gets his video 
maybe on a couple of video stations and his record may get played 
on radio, when you look at the level of impact, I can't — that is why 
I say, they may have the same message, but the impact is very dif- 
ferent and much wider. 

I would — just to buttress to follow up on that to say that Dr. Dre 
or any artist who may have a gun in their video or talk about guns, 
has more impact than watching — I am not trjdng to get into an at- 
tack on Holl5rwood, but I will use Steven Seagal again. 

When Tupac did a movie called Juice, his poster had a gun in 
it initially, the character he played in the movie. Requests by the 
film company, someone, they took the gun out of his hands in the 
poster. Yet, that same couple of weeks, there was Arnold 
Schwarzenegger, I always go back to that movie, The Last Action 
Hero, where he had a desert ego, which is a very lethal automatic 
weapon, handgun, which has become very popular in the streets of 

It was very prominent in his poster. He is like this, with a little 
kid in his hand in the poster. 

How is Tupac Skakur doing the same thing or talking about that 
weapon in passing in a rap record more painful or more impactful 
than Arnold Schwarzenegger doing that in his movie screens? I 
don't think that Tupac has more influence than Arnold 

Mrs. Collins. I have been advised, and this is for Mr. Singleton 
or Mr. Harleston, that many radio stations won't play some of the 
gangsta rap on their stations. So there would seem to me to be 
some kind of split in the industry, and how do you respond to those 
critics who happen to be in your industry? And I say "critics" be- 
cause of the fact that they won't play the music. 

Mr. Harleston and then Mr. Singleton. 

Mr. Harleston. Thank you. 

It was not in my statement. 

Mrs. Collins. I didn't say it was in a statement. It has come to 
my attention. 

Mr. Harleston. Oh, OK. But I appreciate your coming to me be- 
cause I do have some thoughts and comments on that. 

When there was a flurry of press releases from a variety of radio 
stations in December and November, I was really somewhat 
stumped. These releases said in varying terms: No longer will we 
play songs that contain profanity, that make references to drugs or 
narcotics or, in some cases, that contain derogatory references to 
women or some combination thereof from these various statements. 

And I and other members of our industry, as I said, were some- 
what stumped because to our minds, this represented anything but 
a departure from the policy at urban radio, which is the radio for- 
mat at which much, if not most of black music and hip hop music 
is played, although chirp and contemporary hit/urban radio is in- 
creasingly important to us. 

Now, why do I say that and how do I know that? 

When we release a single, and this issue was touched upon brief- 
ly in your examination of Mr. Cornelius, when we release a single, 
it is very clear to us what radio will play and what radio will not 


play, and it has been for years. It is clear that radio will not play 
a song if it contains profanity. 

It is clear that radio will not play a song if it contains an explicit 
reference to a drug or a narcotic. What then happens? 

What happens is that when we make a decision to release a 
record to radio and commercially as well, we edit that song. So to 
create the radio edit that you had questioned Mr. Cornelius about, 
we delete from the song those words which radio would not — would 
prevent radio from playing the records, words which have pre- 
vented radio from pla5dng the record for a long, long time. 

So as I said, we were stumped, and I really think it is important 
to clarify the state of radio, radio in America. This is not a new — 
a departure from historical policy. This is not a stand that we see 
radio taking, frankly. 

The same standards which have broadcast standards, which have 
applied at radio prior to last fall apply now. And our editing is no 
different from that which it was prior to the press releases in the 
late fall. 

Mr. Singleton. There is a little bit of ambiguity to that synop- 
sis. Madam Chairwoman. Radio programmers play what they want 
to play. Many radio programmers make their own edits to music 
that they want to play. 

We have a record that was put on the MCA label, a rap record, 
by a rap group out of Chicago called J. Jees, the name of the song 
was "Put Down the Guns." And this song, this video is depicting 
the many incidents that occur and exist in our communities, in our 
inner cities. And the whole message of the song and the whole di- 
rection of the video is burning guns, putting guns in a pile and at 
the end of the video, all the guns are burnt up. Radio stations, by 
and large, would not play this record. 

So there is a little bit of ambiguity in terms of what they will 
play, what they won't play, what is in the record doesn't really 
seem to make a big difference. Some stations will. Some won't. It 
doesn't have to be a rap record, by the way. That is not something 
that is strictly an incident or a series of incidents that strictly 
occur with rap music, but music in general goes through constant 
scrutiny by radio programmers, for any number of reasons they 
may decide to play or not to play. Oftentimes with rap music, I 
think radio owners, radio station managers and their advertisers 
create a bit of pressure for them and make it difficult for them to 
consent to play a record. 

I might also add that a lot of stations around the country today 
have a tremendous passion for the rap music because they are real- 
izing the passion that their audience has for rap music. It should 
be made clear to everyone in this room that most of the hsird-core 
rap music was not made with an intention of radio playing it. Most 
of the rappers 4 or 5 years ago were very, very vocal about not car- 
ing about being on radio, so much so that some of them even put 
it in their songs. 

They call, actually call into the radio stations in specific cities 
and talked about radio, because radio stations who are often seen 
to be in touch with the mainstream of the community, based on the 
popularity of rap music, there was an indication that radio was not 
in touch with the community, and as a result of that reality, radio 

V 60 

now plays a lot more rap music than they played in terms of 4 or 
5 years ago. 

I might — just one closing statement on that same issue about 
radio and rap music. Fifteen years ago when this music was cre- 
ated, most people hated it when it wasn't hard core or obscene or 
vulgar. Most people thought it wasn't going to be around. It was 
doomed to go away. 

If we flash back, radio, especially black radio, when — and more 
so prior to the disco era than in the last 10 or 15 years, the jocks 
were the rappers. Somewhere along the line, radio deejays at black 
radio, they were stifled by their managers and their owners and 
not allowed to do the hip rapping of the Frankie Crockers, of the 
Butterballs and the various disk jockeys around the country. 

So today when you listen to radio, you don't hear that crafty, art- 
ful rhyming poetic announcer that you hear, but 15 or so years ago, 
when Curtis Blow, the Sugar Hill Gang and numerous other artists 
broke on the scene with rap music, it wasn't obscene, it wasn't vul- 
gar but people were putting the music down and saying it wasn't 
going to survive, it wasn't going to be here. 

Today, rap music is the single-dominant force in black music in 
America and the world. 

Mrs. Collins. Let me ask another question of both of you now. 
It has been pointed out during this hearing at various times that 
not only African-Americans, young people enjoy this music, but 
that those in other cultures enjoy it as well. 

Do you have any figures or statistics about the sales of rap 

Mr. Harleston? 

Mr. Harleston. Actually 

Mrs. Collins. Whoever wants to answer. Everybody can answer 
if you want to. 

Mr. Harleston. Figures that have been furnished to me by the 
Recording Industry Association of America, which is the trade asso- 
ciation for the recording industry, these figures reflect that, if I un- 
derstand the question correctly, you are interested in the racial de- 
mographic, reflect that in 1993, 53.1 percent of purchasers of rap 
music were white, 45.4 percent were non white. In 1992, 51.9 per- 
cent of purchasers were nonwhite, 47.3 percent were white. In 
1991, 48.4 percent of purchasers of rap music were nonwhite, 50.8 
percent were white. 

Now, I don't have information as to the data underljdng these 
figures, nor the surveys or anything like that, but certainly 

Mrs. Collins. So it is selling to most of the young people across 
the Nation? 

Mr. Harleston. Now, absolutely. 

Mrs. Collins. Yes, now. So it is not just selling to a black mar- 
ket, per se? 

Mr. Harleston. No. 

Mrs. Collins. Selling to mostly young people who want to buy 

Mr. Harleston. Yes. 

Mr. Singleton. Congresswoman, again, and I said this earlier, 
it is the music of our youth, and in the 1950's and 1960's when 
Elvis Presley was rocking and rolling and gyrating his pelvis on 


stage, it was considered obscene, vulgar. The adults of society dur- 
ing that period rebelled. Today, he is — he is the hottest stamp that 
exists in the U.S. Postal System. 

Mrs. Collins. Tell me about Billboard. Billboard was highly rec- 
ognized as a spokesperson, if you will, or a spokes organization for 
much of what was going on in the industry. Is that still the case? 

Mr. Singleton. Billboard is still highly regarded as the Bible of 
the music industry, yes. 

Mr. George. I would like to add, Madam Chairwoman, I was the 
black music editor at that institution for 7 years during the growth 
of rap music. Since I left in 1989, since that time, there has been 
a change in leadership at the magazine and the head editor now, 
a gentleman named Timothy White, has used rap music as a plat- 
form to expand his voice in the industry. 

On numerous occasions, he has singled out rap, particularly 
gangsta rap as — in editorials and other ways, in somewhat, I be- 
lieve, this is my own personal opinion, cynical manner to expand 
his own voice in industry. 

Mrs. Collins. Do you agree with that Mr. Harleston? 

Mr. Harleston. I really don't have knowledge of Mr. White, so 
I can't comment on that. I did just want to add that 

Mrs. Collins. Have you seen this Billboard editorial? 

Mr. Harleston. Yes, I have. 

Mrs. Collins. Have you seen it, Mr. Singleton? 

Mr. Singleton. No, I have not. 

Mr. Harleston. I just wanted to, if I may, add to the character- 
ization of Billboard. It is an important trade publication. But it is 
not, nor am I aware of it ever having been, considered the voice of 
the industry. It is, as many newspapers and magazines, as the 
press, is a forum in which various views are articulated at various 
times. The quotations that were lifted from that particular article 
in the first panel, that was an editorial, and like most op-ed pieces, 
reflects opinion. Certainly, not an industry view or position. 

Mr. Singleton. Let me clarify that. Billboard, as an inter- 
national magazine, as a Bible of the music industry, was more so 
regarded as that because of its reflection of its charts and its sales 
projections, not of its editorial content. 

Mr. George. To buttress that, it never 

Mrs. Collins. Before you do that, how does Billboard, speaking 
of charts and all of that, how does it report or how does it chart 
gangsta rap? 

Mr. Singleton. It doesn't separate it. There is no category that 
says gangsta rap. 

Mrs. Collins. And it charts very highly; right? 

Mr. Singleton. Madam Chairwoman, Billboard has renovated 
its system of charting over the last, what did I say, 2 years. Nel- 

Mr. George. Two or three years. 

Mr. Singleton. Two or three years. It went on to country music 
and on to other formats. The last format that it made these adjust- 
ments with were black music in all forms. For a little over a year 
now, black music is being monitored and charted totally differently 
than Billboard 2 years ago or prior to the change in its system. 


That system is a combination of variables and factors that has to ' 
do with a tremendous amount of technology. 

One of the systems has — is called "sound scan", and sound scan i 
is like the bar code that we see on items that we buy in the super- 
market or on your record. Every record should have the bar code 
on it and, of course, it wouldn't surprise me if that record you held 
up with the funny parental logo may not have a sound scan on it. 
Because people who are totally unprofessional entering in business 
don't quite know how to put themselves in the mix and really be 
a part of the mainstream. 

To make my point about Billboard and sound scan, sound scan 
measures — it actually records the over-the-counter consumer sale, 
which is a new method of measuring sales in America. That is 
factored in exclusively for album sales, but a combination of that 
record sale and radio airplay rotation is used for determining activ- 
ity on singles for the regular chart, not the rap chart. 

The rap singles chart is strictly sales and sound scan over-the- 
counter purchases. Yes, rap music charts high because when rap 
music is put out, rap music first and foremost, I think I should 
clarify and make a statement here, that rap music has always had 
a tremendous underground. It was never a major part of the main- 

Remember, I mentioned earlier when the Sugar Hill Gang came 
along, people were rebelling and rejecting the music and a lot of 
people in the industry were not — didn't understand the music, and 
it has always been the music of the streets of the community of the 
inner cities. 

So rap music has such a tremendous underground buzz, that it 
doesn't get its marketing thrust always through the traditional 
sources. There is a tremendous word-of-mouth, through clubs, 
through retail outlets that are not necessarily the mainstream 
stores, and for some reason when rap records are put out, there is 
a tremendous word-of-mouth, even before the record is put out. 

People know when the records are coming out. And that is also 
the reason why I encourage that we begin to talk to our kids, be- 
cause they have some marketing techniques that I think a lot of 
us in corporate America, in companies all over the world, could 
learn a lot from them. 

Rap music charts high because it has this tremendous instant 
consumer base, day one, when the record hits the stores. 

Mr. George. Madam Chairwoman, it is an interesting phenome- 
non of rap music that the arc of a rap record tends to be zoom the 
first week or two, and then zoom down slowly over time, because 
it is like a — there is really this tremendous word-of-mouth appeal 
of the music. People know before the record comes out, there is a 
buzz that goes on for certain artists. 

Also, one of the phenomenons since sound scan has been intro- 
duced, is the fact that one reason that gangsta rap particularly has 
come to more of the forefront is that it literally, it really is — the 
sound scan — now it really shows up in sales in a tremendous way. 
The phenomenon of Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg, particularly, 
last year they sold about 8 million records, which is unprecedented 
in the history of this music. 


Mrs. Collins. We very much appreciate your coming before us 
to testify. I know that many of you have come — some of you have 
come from very long distances in this inclement weather. It has 
been a hardship on your part, and I thank you for appearing before 
our subcommittee today. 

A colleague of mine, Maxine Waters, has been here for most of 
this hearing and we are going to have her come forward at this 

You may make room for Ms. Waters, please. 

Thank you for testifying before us. 


Ms. Waters. Thank you very much, Madam Chairwoman, for ex- 
tending the time of this hearing to allow me to share a few of my 
thoughts with you. 

I am so very pleased that as this hearing has unfolded, that you 
have made it absolutely clear that you have a responsibility to 
know what is going on in this country and part of the oversight re- 
sponsibility for your subcommittee is to respond to criticisms and 
concerns that people bring to your attention. But you are one of the 
profound protectors of First Amendment rights, and you are not 
ooking at this to talk about legislating in any manner, but you 
lave provided us with an opportunity for a discussion that America 
needs, and I would like to thank you for that. 

Additionally, I would like to thank you because you were one of 
my colleagues who gave me compliments for the work that I did in 
trying to explain to America the pain and the despair and the 
hopelessness of our young people following the civil unrest. And 
you went ahead to promote within our Caucus my getting recog- 
nized for that at the Congressional Black Caucus last year, and I 
will never forget that. Because at a time when I was being con- 
demned by many in this country, you said what I said and what 
I did had value. And, again, I would like to tell you that I will al- 
ways appreciate your support for that part of my work that I felt 
I needed to do. 

You heard today that Los Angeles is rather a special place, and 
I guess that is said about us all the time in many ways. But you 
heard today that so-called gangsta rap originated in our area, and 
you heard some reference to gangs ana to the despair and the prob- 
lems of my city. Those references, of course, are absolutely correct. 

Much of what happens in that city in south central Los Angeles, 
I am very much aware of. I have been very much an observer. I 
have been very much interacting with young people over a number 
of years, and so I know them. They are, indeed, my children, as 
they are your children. 

They are our children, and I don't intend to throw them away, 
to demean them or to marginalize them, but rather, my respon- 
sibility and yours is to try as much as we can to understand and 
see what we can do, given that we have been given this oppor- 
tunity to serve, to transform them. And to do that, I think we must 
embrace them. We must listen. We must try and understand, and 
we must be able to articulate to America what they, too, are trying 
to articulate. That scene in Chicago with 19 people and those chil- 


dren fighting for food with the dog, those children who were cold, 
those children who were uncared for, are really typical of what is 
going on in far too many places in America. And somehow we pre- 
tend it is not happening or it is somebody else's concern, and some- 
how these children are going to live in these situations and grow 
up to be wholesome adults who won't be angry, who won't cause 
us some problems. 

Who do you think those children are? What do you think they 
are going to be doing a few years from now? If they are not angry, 
it is going to be because they are so crazy they don't know to be 

If they are not hostile, it is going to be because they are so im- 
paired that they cannot act out their hostility, so I can't use a more 
graphic picture than that of the children who were discovered in 
the apartment in Chicago who were hungry, who were uncared for, 
who were sick, who were basically victims of a society that is 
wracked with drugs and other kinds of problems that are causing 
our children to live in situations that we never dreamed. 

And so I have a profound respect for the talented ones who know 
that they are talented despite the fact they would never be identi- 
fied, they would never be chosen by the industry, as we know it, 
to share that talent. As a matter of fact, these children went into 
their garages and their basements and they created this music. 
They created this art form. 

The same industry that we are asking and we are talking to of- 
tentimes didn't want them. They did not embrace them. They did 
not want their music. They were kept off of television. They were 
not produced, and they persisted, and they sold the music on the 
street comers and out of their cars. And so as someone said, they 
didn't care whether radio took them or not, because whether or not 
radio plays them or not, they can still make money, and lots of 
money, and distribute it in ways that are foreign to the industry. 

Let me just share something with you because I am moved to do 

I was reading some lyrics to a popular hit song and it almost 
made me cry, and I would like to share it with you: As I look up 
at the sky, my mind starts tripping. A tear drops from my eye. My 
body temperature falls. I am shaking and they break in tr5dng to 
save the dog. Pumping on my chest and I am screaming, I stop 
breathing, I see demons. Dear God. I wonder, can you save me. My 
boo-boo is about to have my baby and I think it is too late for pray- 
ing. A voice spoke to me and it slowly started saying, bring your 
lifestyle to me and I will make it better. How long will I live? Eter- 
nal life and forever. I will make your life a lot better than you can 
imagine, or you can dream of. So relax your soul. Let me take con- 
trol. Close your eyes, my son. 

This writer. Snoop Doggy Dogg, and his peers have been charged 
with glorifying criminal behavior, denigrating women, in fact, caus- 
ing the horrifying reality of our society today. But if we stop to 
think, we know very well what Snoop, Ice Cube, Ice T, Dr. Dre, 
Queen Latifah, Yo Yo, address in their art, and there is no question 
about it. They are artists. 

They painted the world with their words and their music as they 
see it, as they feel it, as they live it, watch it and hear it. They 


feel pain. They long for hope. They despair of change. They long 
for meaning. Humans have always created art to express their 
pain, hope and despair of change. We all remember the cherished 
spirituals which grew out of the blood and tears of our ancestors 
here in America as they suffered on the white man's plantations. 

Yes, many good people are genuinely offended and others are 
deeply concerned about rap music, and all have the right to oppose 
the music and to express their opinions. And there are a few who 
would defend the right to free speech with a greater fervor than 
mine, but let's take a closer look at what has been said and think 
about the consequences. 

First the words. Some are concerned about the image of the black 
community which is painted in words such as were described here 
today. I will spell them rather than say them. "H-0, B-I-T-C-H" 
and others. I must confess, I am not as offended as some have de- 
scribed, or insulted when I hear cuss words and they find their way 
into the arts. And I do respect, I really do respect that some might 
feel genuinely offended and demeaned by such words. 

But I grew up in St. Louis in the hood, in the ghetto, as many 
of us did. I didn't first hear these words when Snoop said them. 
I didn't first hear these words when it came out of so-called 
gangsta rap music. I heard these words oftentimes by adults, by 
those who held in highest esteem in the church on Sunday morn- 
ing. But as they talked on the street, in the alleys, as they stood 
on the comers, as they were in living rooms such as mine, I heard 
these words, and so I am not quite offended. 

I don't say to people, you should use them. I don't encourage 
them, but we had better stop pretending like we are hearing them 
for the first time. 

But I am truly far more bothered and grieved by the painful 
landscape revealed by these songs which tell story after story about 
young black men losing their fight simply to survive in our rich Na- 

Second, the message. Liberals and conservatives alike express a 
concern that rap music causes violence, because the fear of crime 
and violence has spread its way out of the ghettos and into every 
single community in America today. 

Liberals sometimes are looking for a solution and are beginning 
to think that there might be a connection between art and violence. 
If we ban music about the violent reality of our community, will 
that end the violence? 

Let's not kid ourselves. There are those who have a political 
agenda in seeking to distract people from other issues. Sometimes 
our friends, the conservatives, are having a field day. They have al- 
ways believed blacks cause most of the crime in America. After all, 
they say, look at the inordinately high number of blacks in prisons 
and on death row. Now their evil propaganda stands virtusdly un- 
opposed in today's public debate over rap music. 

Let's not lose sight of what our real problem is. It is not the 
words being used. It is the reality they are rapping about. For dec- 
ades, you and I and so many others have talked about the lives and 
the hopes of our people, the pain and the hopelessness, the depriva- 
tion and abuse. Rap music is communicating that message like we 
never have. It is, indeed, as was described, the CNN of the commu- 


nity causing people from every sector, including black leadership, 
to listen and pay heed. 

Let me share with you what I see in rap music and what I be- 
lieve it can mean to our communities and the future of our young 
people. Transformation. Rap music will both figuratively and lit- 
erally play a role in transforming the lives of youth in urban inner 

For the past 3 years, I have brought rap artists to the Congres- 
sional Black Caucus here in Washington. These young men and 
women care deeply about their communities and their generation. 
They have offered time and again to help, and they have asked how 
they could help every year at the Congressional Black Caucus that 
I have been here. 

I have created a forum, because I saw what was coming and I 
wanted us to get to know them and to interact with them and have 
them tell us what was going on in the industry and what was hap- 
pening with these young artists. 

We have a room full of young people. Whether we have the GO 
committee room or whether we nave the large room over in the 
Cannon Building where we convene hundreds of people, we have 
had before us— Cool Modi was one of our first who came to visit 
with us, Andre Harrel who was mentioned today sat with us and 
discussed who he is and what he does. 

I have interacted in other ways with Russell Simmons and Ice 
Cube. As a matter of fact, we honored Russell Simmons and Ice 
Cube on the same program with Bill Cosby and Rosa Parks in Los 
Angeles, because we are in the business of embracing and trans- 
forming. We do not isolate or marginalize. We believe to the degree 
we bring people together, the same people who feel alienated from 
us and include them in what we do, not only will we be able to in- 
fluence them; we will be able to transform them. 

I had last year at the Congressional Black Caucus, a young man 
that I love that I have adopted. He used to call himself Intelligent 
Hoodlum. He is now called Tragedy. Tragedy told us about his life. 
He told us about his mother on drugs. But he probably also told 
us now that he is making money, how he is responsible for his 
mother's rehabilitation and how well she is doing. 

Whenever he is in the city, he calls me. We go to dinner. We go 
to lunch. We talk, and he is constantly saying, Ms. Waters, can I 
come to Congress and can I tell them about who we are and what 
we are doing? 

I tried to get him to come here today. We were not able to reach 

Queen Latifah was at my women's group. My women's group is 
the Black Women's Forum. We have a cross-section of women, but 
it is mostly upper-middle-class women who earn good money and 
who come from what would be considered strong backgrounds. 
Queen Latifah received a standing ovation from women who 
thought they would never sit in the room with a rap artist because 
they did not know who she was. 

They didn't understand how profound she really is. They did not 
know how much she cared. 

Today I am proud to announce that their involvement and sup- 
port in the biggest and most important project of my career, a pio- 


neering program which will be funded by many concerned people, 
reflecting the broad spectrum of the entertainment industry, in- 
cluding Snoop Doggy Dogg, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Ice T. Following 
the L.A, rebellion, the Black Women's Forum and I created a very 
small but successful pilot program based on the truth that thou- 
sands upon thousands of young people hanging on American 
streets comers want positive and productive lives, they want a way 
out of the vicious vacuum created by joblessness, dropping out of 
school, drugs, hustling, dysfunctional families and the criminal jus- 
tice system. And our pilot program helped provide the way out. 

Now we are expanding that pilot into a full-scale effort called 
"L.A. 17 to 30." Madam Chairwoman, you and others in the Con- 
gressional Black Caucus came to my defense and supported the "17 
to 30" on the government side, where we identified some money in 
the Summer Youth Program unused and we fought like the dickens 
on the Floor and we were able to get that money now into the sys- 
tem, and the regs are being developed for it. So on the public side, 
we will have some money in the system to deal with "17 to 30." 
That is that population of young people that we feel have been 
dropped off of America's agenda. 

On the private side, in Los Angeles, where we know this problem 
better than anybody else, we have gotten the entertainment indus- 
try now involved in supporting 5,000 young people. Soon, 5,000 of 
these young people, mostly black and Latino males, will get that 
chance through the Los Angeles 17 to 30 Program, where we will 
be helping — where we would only be helping in our pilot programs 
in a small way, a few people, we will now be helping 5,000, thanks 
to the incredible support of the entertainment industry, particu- 
larly, including rap performers. 

There has been no program like this in our Nation's history and 
it is my fervent hope and belief that it will succeed. We will go to 
the streets where we will identify them, these young people age 17 
to 30, and because we know young people who are the Crips and 
the Bloods and the A-Tres and the Five Duces, and on and on and 
on, they will be the recruiters for the program. They are the real 
life people that are described by rap music, living on the fringe, in 
a shadow world. 

We will find them in Los Angeles, Inglewood, Gardena, Haw- 
thorne, Lynwood, Compton, Carson and elsewhere in L.A. County, 
L.A. 17 to 30 will operate with a bare minimum of overhead and 
administration. It will contract with 100 qualified case managers, 
each one of whom will provide old fashioned quality social work to 
50 enrollees each. 

During the course of one year, the 5,000 participants will receive 
a stipend of $50 a week, money which they will use for very basic 
necessities, including transportation, haircuts and lunch money. 
The case manager's job will be to socialize and mainstream their 
clients, and it can be done. 

The clients will be enrolled in the nearest vocational education 
program, job training program, high school diploma program, or 
community college. The case managers will work with the young 
people to help them understand the responsibilities of going to 
school every day, and they must be enrolled and they must go to 
get the stipend. They must be on time, following through with as- 


signments and homework and being a good student whose goal is 
to become educated or trained so they can be self-sufficient and 

Case managers will be in constant contact with their clients. We 
want every one of our clients to succeed. There will be regular 
group meetings in the churches where each case manager will iden- 
tify the church, where they will work with their 50. 

They will bring before them role models and all the other kinds 
of things when they meet with them once a week. They will also 
follow up on day-to-day basis with the individual by going to the 
schools, going to their homes, just working on the streets in the 
hood, doing whatever it takes to work them through the problems 
they encounter on a daily basis. Problems such as speech defi- 
ciencies, lack of clothing, health issues that certainly exist in our 

The case manager will be able to direct their clients to the appro- 
priate resources and agencies making full use of the existent sys- 
tems and networks to meet the needs of the participants. 

Who will these case managers be? They will be contractors work- 
ing from their own homes, each with a special 17 to 30 telephone 
that will be installed in their home. The telephone company is 
helping us to put together a communication system where the case 
managers will be able to talk with each other and leave messages 
and all the young people enrolled in the program will be able to 
interact with their case managers. 

They will be contracted working from homes to reduce the over- 
head and to keep them free to be out on the streets. They will be 
constantly interacting with other case managers, sharing concerns, 
asking questions and finding new solutions. 

The program is very low tech, but it is massive and it is going 
to enrich our community magnificently, if we are successful. Our 
goal is to help our individual clients develop positive attitudes 
about work and security and a community free of crime. 

We want to see that our clients receive education or training. We 
want to better enable our clients to become independent, to find a 
job or to successfully retain a job, and it is the case manager's re- 
sponsibility to empower the individuals with the tools by which 
they will do this. 

Each case manager will earn an annual fee of $35,000. Adminis- 
tration of the program will be minimal. The cost of the project for 
one year is $17 million. Resources will largely come from the enter- 
tainment community, and as I have said, we have received an over- 
whelming enthusiastic response from the rap community in par- 
ticular. They have shown tremendous initiative in asking repeat- 
edly how they may help. They are the engine that is powering the 
L.A. 17 to 30 program, and I am deeply grateful for their dedica- 
tion and commitment to the community. 

In closing, I just want to ask that we all stay in touch about the 
program and help spread the word, and we want everybody to keep 
us in their prayers and we want to make sure we direct the money 
that we have put into Federal Government into our cities. 

I see Snoop from time to time. I just saw him, as a matter of fact, 
at the Super Bowl where he was an invited guest. Rap was the cen- 
terpiece of the entertainment at the Super Bowl. Not only was 

' 69 

Snoop there and others, but they are a part of American society. 
They are in the mainstream. They are not going away. A lot of 
money certainly is being made, but people recognize that there is 
a lot of art and there is a lot of talent out there. 

They, too, will be involved in the program. They will be interact- 
ing with our young people. I just saw Ice T at a funeral of a young 
man from south central Los Angeles who was killed, who was in- 
volved in the truce. I saw him break down and cry as he was asked 
to give words. 

These are not cold-blooded, noncaring criminals. These are your 
children and my children. These are young people who have been 
isolated and denied the opportunity to say who they are. They feel 
just as we feel. 

I have never heard one of them curse in my presence. I have 
never heard them say anything but "How are you doing, Ms. Wa- 
ters?" and reach out to hug me and embrace me. 

I love them dearly and I want us to learn how we can better uti- 
lize their talents and let them know that we indeed love them. 

This coming September, as we will do our Congressional Black 
Caucus weekend, I hope to have as many of them as I can. I hope 
to bring Snoop Doggy Dogg here and Ice Cube and any of the rest 
that we can get, and I am sure that the Congressional Black Cau- 
cus will continue to allow me to have that space and that time as 
we promote who we are and what we do. 

Again, my sincere thanks and appreciation to you. Madam Chair- 
woman, for taking all of this time on this terrible day when most 
people are locked up in their homes rather than face the snow and 
the ice and the rain to come out to do anything. 

I would like to commend you for continuing with this hearing 
and taking all of this time to hear all of us. 

Thank you very much. 

Mrs. Collins. Well, we certainly appreciate your testimony and 
we know the fine job that you have done with these young people. 
And we are certainly hopeful that your project will be a pilot pro- 
gram, in fact, that perhaps others of us who have similar cir- 
cumstances in our districts can benefit from. 

Thank you for appearing before us today. 

Ms. Waters. Let me just say one last thing, C. DeLores Tucker 
is one of my closest friends in the world, and we talk about this 
in different ways, but we all work toward the same ends with the 
same goals, and no matter how we approach that, our hearts and 
our love are with the young people. I want everybody to know and 
understand that Sister C. DeLores and I, whetner we talk on the 
telephone or in this room, or anyplace else, we are going to find a 
way by which to realize the goals that we all aspire to. 

Thank you very much. 

Mrs. Collins. With that, this hearing is adjourned. 

[Whereupon, at 1:47 p.m., the hearing was adjourned, to recon- 
vene at the call of the Chair.] 

[The following statement was received:] 


Statement of Dionne Warwick 

To all assembled here tx)day for this most important hearing of testimony regard- 
ing the effect of a recorded form of communication called "Gangsta Rap", I must say 
how sorry I am not to be able to be with you to personally deliver this passionate 
concern that I have about this subject, and to personally thank the honorable Con- 
gresswoman Cardiss Collins, who bravely has given me, and others, this opportunity 
to be able to express our concerns, and/or lack of concern. 

As a single parent, an African-American woman, a recording artist for the last 
30 years, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a girlfriend, and one of the co-chairs of the 
National Political Congress of Black Women, Inc., I feel the graphic and continued 
exposure to violence, sexual activities usually reserved and expressed in the privacy 
of bedrooms, and the appalling abusive use of words in descriptions of women, spe- 
cifically African American women, via a medium that has long been regarded as the 
easiest way to get a message across, recordings, and now with the additional help 
of video used to enhance these recorded messages, I am compelled to ask those who 
supply these recordings and videos — ^What and how do you think the mothers, 
grandmothers, sisters, aunts, wives, girlfriends, of the providers of "Gangsta Rap" 
products feel each time any of these recordings are played, or videos shown depict- 
ing and expounding total disrespect and disregard for the African-American woman 
specifically, and women generally? 

I can, and will, speak for myself 

I'm hurt, I'm angered, I'm disappointed, and will no longer sit passively allowing 
this degradation to be continued by "our children." 

In short, I'm tired, and I've had enough. 

When will responsibility be demanded to deny the glorification and promotion of 
violence with guns, knives, the use of drugs, the denigration and defamation of 
women, and now, the explicit pornographic art work accompanying these record- 

When will responsibility be demanded by all to deny the continuing images that 
degrade our dignity, insult our families, stunt the emotions of our children, and 
most importantly, our communities? 

If the continuance of negative exposure, by a medium that is showing a distorted 
look at images of male/female relationships, the constant undermining of our family 
stability, encouragement of violence, abuse, and sexism as acceptable behavior, and 
perpetuating the cycle of low self-esteem of our youth, expressly, African-American 
youth, we then must be able to see and feel the effect. 

The rise in murders, abuse, batterings, teen prostitution, teen pregnancies, and 
teen suicide, is a reality. 

An unconscionable burden has been placed on our children. 

It has caused their respect of each other to all but vanish, the value of life is all 
but negated, and we as tiie "elders", and we who Eire giving opportunity of expres- 
sion to "our" children, must now be courageous enough to take that responsibility 
to show how we celebrate the Constitution, the free market system, and respect the 
First Amendment rights. 

Obscenity, in any form, has never been acceptable, and has been an exception to 
free speech. 

In 1992, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that it was more important to ban 
speech that is "dehumanizing to women than to protect free speech." 

We cannot continue to allow what ends up on record or television and movie 
screens to be the representation of what is thought to be what we want to see. 

We cannot continue for the sake of record sales and ratings, to lead "our" children 
down a one way street. 

We have got to let them know that "Menance to Society", and "Boyz in the Hood" 
is not the totality of our experience as African-Americans. We have got to let them 
know that the human drama and struggle and tales of love and tragedy and por- 
trayals are available for them to learn of the royalty and pride that their African 
lineage from which they come. 

We all know loving and nurturing families and neighbors — ^Why then is it a depic- 
tion that our lives are worse than dysfunctional? 

All of us now have to take the steps to correct this misconception that is being 
dished up to "our" children, and all mankind being accosted. 

We cannot continue to allow "our" children to pre-pay their funerals, we must 
take seriously that old cliche, "Our children are our future", we must again invest 
in "our" youth. 


I applaud Dr. C. Delores Tucker for taking the initiative to support and provide 
insight into the process of reclaiming "our" youth. In so doing, we also reclaim our 
communities, and our cultural heritage. 

In conclusion, I recognize this to be an enormous undertaking, however, all of the 
struggles that I for one have been a part of for the right to be respected and re- 

farded as an equal human being, not to be demoralized by anyone, am willing to 
e one of the tlu-eads that will provide the tapestry that has to be woven depicting 
the love and fiill respect that we all deserve unconditionally. 


THURSDAY, MAY 5, 1994 

House of Representatives, 
Committee on Energy and Commerce, 
Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, 

AND Competitiveness, 

Washington, DC. 

The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:10 a.m., in room 
2123, Raybum House Office Building, Hon. Cardiss Collins (chair- 
woman) presiding. 

Mrs. Collins. Good morning. This hearing of the Energy and 
Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and 
Competitiveness will come to order. 

Today's hearing will focus on the impact of offensive, violent, and 
misogynistic language in the recording industry. 

Before we get started, I would like to welcome Mr. Bruce Pendle- 
ton and his law and public policy class from McKinley Tech, and 
I would also like to thank your students, Mr. Pendleton, for shar- 
ing their essays on gangsta rap with me. 

Since our first hearing on February 11 of this year on production, 
sale, and distribution in interstate commerce of music which con- 
tains sexually explicit, violent, and misogynistic lyrics, I have given 
considerable thought to this issue, especially to the testimony given 
at that hearing. I am deeply concerned that an issue of this mag- 
nitude and consequence to youth, to women, and particularly to the 
African American community, has for the most part been glossed 
over by the media. The language, lyrics, and words that we use to 
refer to one another in music, in conversation, and in the media 
certainly do matter. 

I do want to make it absolutely clear that the purpose of these 
series of hearings is not to legislate, not to censure, not to discuss 
abridgement of First Amendment rights, the purpose is to move 
this discussion into the public forum and to explore consumer con- 
cerns regarding the impact of abusive, offensive, violent language 
in recorded music. We hope to raise the level of individual con- 
sciousness and corporate sensitivity and to increase public aware- 
ness and understanding of the issue. 

We know from research and clinical observation, verbal abuse is 
a major problem in the lives of children. Parents are rightfully con- 
cerned about the impact of abusive language and negative imagery 
in music and other forms of popular culture. 

It was well established at our first hearing that much of this rap 
music is commercially motivated and that some record producers 
operate without standards, they just produce music that sells. 



Many justifications were given for the abusive l3rrics. The primary 
excuse was that these lyrics mirror the community, that the 
gangsta rap created economic opportunities for otherwise deprived 
African Americans. 

What bothers me the most about that is the fact that the indus- 
try puts out so-called clean or sanitized versions of that very music. 
Now if you can put out and sell clean versions, why not just do 
that, just put out the clean versions? 

It is not my intention to give hip hop a bad rap. In my opinion, 
the hip hop culture presents a much needed critique of a repressive 
urban society. Rappers like Grandmaster Flash in the song, 'The 
Message", which focuses on the social conditions of the community, 
bring to the public's attention the myriad of problems that are the 
outgrowth of racism and economic deprivation. 

Furthermore, it is not the intention of these hearings to isolate 
gangsta rap music while other forms of music and popular culture 
that glamorize sexism and violence go unmentioned. 

Abusive language represents a very small portion but a very 
profitable segment of the music market. Each generation has its 
own unique youth culture, and like this generation's B-boys and B- 
girls, each has had their own rebellious music, dress, style, and at- 

Since our last hearing, I have observed some changes. One, the 
record industry has expressed its willingness to help resolve 
consumer concerns; two, women are now vocalizing their dislike of 
the derogatory references; three, female rappers are fighting back 
with messages defying their one-dimensional, subservient role; and, 
four, male rappers, some of them, like Dough E. Fresh, are express- 
ing their concern, as we can see from the video clip here. 

[Videotape shown.] 

Mrs. Collins. That tape, that short bit, was taken from a TV 
show called "In the Mix." 

Today I am pleased that we will have an opportunity to hear 
once again from the youth on this subject. I want to share with you 
these thoughts from Dr. James Garbarino of the Erickson Institute 
in Chicago, and I am quoting now. "The use of nasty and demean- 
ing language sets the stage for violence. Depersonalizing individ- 
uals and groups makes it psychologically easier to commit violence 
against them. This depersonalization usually proceeds in small 
steps, each one of which desensitizes the user and facilitates fur- 
ther degeneration of humane relationships and instigates aggres- 

I am concerned about the widespread use of violence and 
misogynistic language. It certainly dehumanizes relationships and 
desensitizes us to further assaults on human dignity. 

Mr. Steams. 

Mr. Stearns. Good morning, and thank you. Madam Chair- 

I must confess that I am somewhat unfamiliar with rap or hip 
hop. I regret that I was not here at the first hearing, but, Madam 
Chairwoman, I wish to compliment you for calling the second hear- 
ing on this matter. I have read the transcript of that hearing. 

As a father, a father of three boys who listen to rap, and as a 
member of this subcommittee, I am deeply concerned about the vio- 


lence, misogjmy, the hatred of women, in the lyrics contained in the 
lyrics and in the music. 

There are those who will say that listening to music does not af- 
fect behavior. I believe that exposure to repeated messages of vio- 
lence, sadistic cruelty, misogyny, can and does influence behavior. 
Music is a powerful medium and, like all media, can be manipu- 
lated to produce certain results. 

Recently there was a considerable controversy over the MTV pro- 
gram "Beavis and Butthead." The characters spent much of their 
time playing with fire. This program is very, very popular with 
young people, and a lot of kids imitate the behavior of the tele- 
vision heroes. One little boy burned down his trailer house and lost 
his life in the process. MT\^ agreed to cut out the references to fire 
and moved the show to 11 p.m. By moving the show back and edit- 
ing the references to fire, I believe they acknowledged what we all 
know, that people are influenced by what they see and what they 

At our previous hearing, Joseph Madison, a syndicated talk show 
host, spoke of the influence of rap on his son, and he said, "My 14- 
year-old son began fantasizing and hero worshipping the images of 
thugs and criminals, even to the point of dressing like a gangsta 
rapper, and believed that jail was a better alternative to his mid- 
dle-class home and existence. For this reason, I am greatly dis- 
turbed by the proliferation of a music, a style, and class, and type 
that advocates the killing of police officers, the denigration of 
women, and the need for violent revolution. Unfortunately, I realize 
that music sells and is therefore widely promoted." 

The Wall Street Journal recently carried an article on a female 
rapper named Boss. This woman explained that she couldn't find 
a company to promote her until she adopted the gangsta image. 
Now her rap is filled with obscenity, and her music is making her 
a wealthy young woman. What message does this send to the 
young people of America? 

While I firmly believe that every American has the right to ex- 
press himself or herself freely, without fear of Grovemment censor- 
ship, certain types of speech are in fact regulated. Pornographic 
material, for example, cannot be sold to people under 18. 

I am not necessarily advocating such restrictions on the sale and 
distribution of music, but those who choose to advertise messages 
of murder and rape invite closer scrutiny of their actions. 

Madam Chairwoman, I don't know what the answers are, but I 
do know that I find that violence and rage in much of rap frighten- 
ing. I hope our witnesses today can enlighten us, and I welcome 
them here today. 

Thank you. 

Mrs. Collins. Thank you very much. 

Our first panel today will be our youth panel. That is Ms. 
Melanie Glickson of the Daulton High School; Mr. Marvin J. Cole- 
man, who is the outreach coordinator; and Ms. Andrea Barrow of 
the LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts. 

Mr. Coleman — let me say this, Mr. Coleman, before we begin. We 
operate under the House rules, which means that you will have 5 
minutes to give a summary of your full statement, with the full 
knowledge that your entire statement will be made a part of the 


record. We are going to set the clock when you start talking. You 
will also see this go on. When that turns red, that means that the 
time is up, you can finish your thought. The bell will also ring to 
indicate to you that, in case you are busy concentrating and you 
don't happen to see the light, to help you know that time has ex- 


Mr. Coleman. Thank you. Madam Chairwoman and members of 
the subcommittee. 

My name is Marvin Coleman. I am 24 yesirs old, grew up in 
Philadelphia, graduated from Emory University in the spring of 
1992 and from the Columbia University Graduate School of Jour- 
nalism in the spring of 1993. I worked my way through school — 
well, I helped my parents pay for my schooling as a DJ, and last 
fall I joined In the Mix program produced by WNYC in New York 
as the outreach coordinator, and I am going to talk about a show 
that we did — an episode that we did called "Hip Hop: Then And 

The In the Mix episode "Hip Hop: Then And Now" is the 43rd 
installment of In the Mix. It is a clear example of what this na- 
tional PBS weekly television magazine show for teens does every 
week since its national debut in January 1993: It investigates, it 
dissects, and it offers choices about pressing issues that affect 
America's teens. 

In an entertaining yet purposeful manner. In the Mix has chal- 
lenged teens on issues such as AIDS, violence, teen employment, 
homelessness, acquaintance rape, teen alcoholism, and much, much 

Recently, hip hop music and the issues that it raises was one of 
the many social issues that we felt our teens had to deal with. 
Since its inception in the mid-seventies, the music has evolved and 
grown into a multimillion-dollar worldwide phenomenon, but that 
growth has not come without its pains. 

At present, there are intense debates about the direction and in- 
tent of the music. Hip hop artists are being accused of promoting 
violent, antisocial behavior and also being criticized for using sexist 
lyrics that degrade women. Some groups have even called for boy- 
cotts of radio stations who play hip hop songs with misogynist and 
violent lyrics and also record stores that stock the same products. 

In the midst of all of this whirlwind of controversy surrounding 
hip hop music. In the Mix chose to investigate this subject in its 
own unique way. Instead of doing yet another condemning report 
about the problems of hip hop music and its artists, In the Mix in 
its trailblazing and daring style, sought out several of hip hop's 
founders and innovators to provide commentary on what is happen- 
ing with the music and its younger artists. 

In addition to interviewing the "old school artists". In the Mix 
sought the opinions of hip hop's number one consumers, teenagers. 
We had a teenage posse made up of African Americans, Cauca- 


sians, and Latinos talk about the images of women in hip hop vid- 
eos, the use of words like "nigger" and "bitch" in lyrics, the choice 
whether to buy or not to buy certain music, and their attitudes to- 
wards censorship. 

The In the Mix approach, which is offering choices instead of di- 
rectives, combined with stylized production values, incisive inter- 
views, upbeat music, and enthusiastic teen reporters has given our 
teens, our parents, our educators, and our community leaders the 
show that they have been looking for. This program gets people 
talking, thinking, communicating, and considering alternatives for 

The following details the pre-production research and decisions 
that formed our show, "In the Mix, Hip Hop Then And Now." Our 
show has never been a stranger to hip hop. In fact, every one of 
the 42 episodes prior to our show on hip hop, we featured either 
an interview with a hip hop artist, a hip hop music video, or at 
least had hip hop music sound tracked as background music in our 

The In the Mix hip hop interviews have been wide ranging. We 
have had the likes of Chuck D., Paris, KRS 1, we have had Top 
40 acts like Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince and K-7, we have had fe- 
male rappers. Queen Latifah and MC Lite as well as Salt-N-Pepa, 
and also we have had even the "underground" or hard-core artists 
like Redman and Onjoc. 

The videos that we feature on In the Mix are carefully screened 
to ensure, one, that no offensive images go to our national audi- 
ence; and two, the videos have a relationship to a topic that we are 
covering in a particular episode. 

[The prepared statement of Mr. Coleman follows:] 





IN THE MIX episode #204 - Hip Hop Then & Now, History & Issues, the 43rd 
installment of IN THE MIX, is a clear example of what this national PBS weekly 
television magazine show for teens does every week since its national debut in January 
1993 — investigate, dissect, and offer choices about pressing issues that affect America's 
teens. In an entertaining yet purposeful manner, IN THE MIX has challenged teens on 
issues such as AIDS, violence, teen employment, homelessness, acquaintance rape, teen 
alcoholism, cind much more. Recently, Hip Hop music, and the issues that it raises, was 
one of the many social issues that our teens deal with. Since its inception in the mid- 
seventies, the music has evolved and grown into a multi-million dollar, worldwide 
phenomenon, but that growth has not come without its pains. At present, there are 
intense debates about the direction and intent of the music, and Hip Hop artists are 
being accused of promoting violent, anti-social behavior and criticized for using sexist 
lyrics that degrade women. Since the music was conceptualized and is performed 
predominately by young African- Americans, several prominent leaders of the African- 
American commimity are taking the music and its artists to task. Some groups have 
called for boycotts of radio stations who play Hip Hop songs with misogynist and 
violent lyrics and the record stores that stock the same product. 

In the midst of this whirlwind of controversy surroimding Hip Hop music, IN 
THE MIX chose to investigate this subject in its own unique way. Instead of doing yet 
another condemning report about the problems of Hip Hop music and its artists, IN 
THE MIX, in its trailblazing and daring style, sought out several of Hip Hop's foimders 
and innovators to provide commentary on what is happening with the music and its 






younger artists. In addition to interviewing the "Old School" artists, IN THE MIX 
sought the opinions of Hip Hop's number one consumers, teens. This teen "posse" 
made up of African- American, Caucasian, and Latino male and female teens engaged in 
a discussion of the images of women in Hip Hop videos, the use of words like "nigger" 
and "bitch" in the lyrics, the choice to buy or not to buy certain music, and their attitude 
toward censorship. 

The IN THE MIX approach, offering choices instead of directives, combined with 
stylized production values, incisive interviews, upbeat music, and enthusiastic teen 
reporters has given our teens, our parents, our educators, and our community leaders 
the show that they have been looking for. This program gets people talking, thinking, 
commimicating and considering alternatives for action. The following details the pre- 
production research and decisions that formed IN THE MIX #204 "Hip Hop: Then & 

IN THE MIX has never been a stranger to Hip Hop. In fact in every one of the 
forty-two episodes prior to IN THE MIX #204 "Hip Hop: Then & Now," we featured 
either an interview with a Hip Hop artist, a Hip Hop music video, or at least had Hip 
Hop soundtracked as background music in our segments. IN THE MIX Hip Hop 
interviews have been wide ranging. We have featiired political artists Chuck D, Paris, 
and KRS-1, top 40 pop acts Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince and K-7, female rappers Queen 
Latifah, MC Lyte, and Salt-N-Pepa, and even "underground" or more hardcore artists 
like Redman and Onyx. The videos that we feature on IN THE MIX are carefully 
screened to ensure one, non-offensive images to our national audience, and two, a direct 

Page -2 





relationship to a topic that we are covering in a particular episode. An example is the 
usage of Tragedy's "Street Life" video in a show where IN THE MIX spends a grueling 
night in a hospital emergency room chronicling the effects of violence amongst teens. In 
that show you watch graphic "on-location" footage of a team of doctors who try to save 
a young man who has been shot in the chest. Tragedy's "Street Life" video admonishes 
"young toughs" to think twice about their actions because they could end up on that 
same emergency room table. 

Prompted by a Source Magazine and Colimtbia University symposixim on Hip 
Hop that featured the genre's founders Kool Here, Grandmaster Flash &. Melle Mel, 
Afrika Bambaata, and members of the world-reknowned Rock Steady (Breakdandng, or 
B-Boying) Crew, IN THE MIX producers proposed the story idea that one of our 
episodes should include a segment on Hip Hop's founders. 

As the story idea developed, our producers agreed upon two topics to ask the 
foimders: violent imagery and misogynist references about women in Hip Hop lyrics. 
We chose to ask the "Old School" artists about these topics simply because we felt that 
their opinions would be insightful, motivating, and informative for our teen audience. 
In addition, the media in general has been so pre-occupied with Tupac "2Pac" Shakur 
and Calvin "Snoop Doggy Dogg" Broadus, we felt that our focus should be on the 
feelings and thoughts of the people who started Hip Hop. 

In addition to interviewing the foimders, another essential group to hear from 
would be Hip Hop's premier consumers and our audience, teens. A regular segment 
featured on IN THE MIX is the SHOUT (It Out) where teens voice their opinions on 

Page -3 





various topics. In the Hip Hop episode we used the concept of un-rehearsed, raw 
commentary from teens of various ethnic backgroimds to discuss questions of violence, 
misogyny, censorship, and their own consimier habits. 

This episode's format begins the with the contemporary issues raised by our 
teens, re-caps the highlights of Hip Hop history as told by the founders themselves, the 
SHOUT segment on the current issues, the founders' feelings on violence and 
misogyny, a segment on conflict resolution as a solution to the violence that plagues 
society today, the foimder's advice on avoiding conflicts and violence, the foimders call 
for change of direction and in the music, and the show ends with our teens' voices 
acknowledging that not all Hip Hop is bad and that there are positive artists who are 
commercially successful. 

After scouring through Hip Hop periodical, books, videos, and movies, we 
agreed to pursue DJ Kool Here, Grandmaster Flash, Kevie Kev Rockwell the 
Spinmaster, Grandwizard Theodore (first dj to scratch), the Coldcrush Brothers, 
Whodini, Doug E. Fresh, MC Lyte, Tragedy the Intelligent Hoodlum, Alan Light — 
music editor of Vibe Magazine, and Lesley Pitts — director of promotions at Jive 
Records. Other old school greats such as Afrika Bambaata, Busy Bee, Melle Mel, and 
Kurtis Blow were unfortunately unavailable at production time. In addition we invited, 
albeit unsuccessfully, several writers and editors of the Source Magazine to be a part of 
this project since their 50th Anniversary issue that chronicled Hip Hop's history was an 
inspiration to our endeavor. 

Page -4 





What resulted was IN THE MIX "Hip Hop: Then & Now." As noted in the April 
24, 1994 review of the show in USA Today, this IN THE MIX episode is historical. The 
IN THE MIX Hip Hop show finally puts on camera, the founders of Hip Hop who 
have, to date, never been interviewed on a nationally televised forum. Instead of only 
criticizing Hip Hop, IN THE MIX creates dialogue about the issues that are attached to 
the music It is not unfairly critical, yet it is strongly critical of the music There is a 
distinct and honest feel from the show because the criticism is self-reflective — rappers 
checking other rappers on their abuse of the art form, teens checking other teens on 
their consumer habits. This is not your typical, bandwagon, "whaf s wrong with rap" 

Those qualities, in addition to the entertainment value of the "old school" 
footage, the music, and the interviewed artists themselves, make IN THE MIX #204 
very attractive as Edu-tainment for our core audience, teens, and to adults who are 
trying to understand just what their children are listening to. This show has received 
praise and thus endorsement from those who critique Hip Hop because it asks rappeis 
to answer tough questions, and from those who love Hip Hop because it finally gives a 
venue to Hip Hop's foimders as well as insight on how this cultiire started. 






Selected quotes from IN THE MIX - Hip Hop Then & Now /History & Issues 

What is Hip Hop? Hip Hop is a culture. It's the way you dress. It's the way you talk. It's the kind of 
music you listen to. But people has really bst touch of what Hip Hop really is, you know? People think of 
Hip Hop these days, they think of a guy walking around with a pistol or disrespecting girls. No, that's not 
Hip Hop. - Grand Wizard Theodore, the first deejay to scratch 

/ think a lot of people think that rap music is making people turn to crime and that this whole rap 
industry is creating all this violence and all this drug use. — Andrea Barrow, IN THE MIX Reporter, 
age 15. 

Violence was here before the gansta rapper greats were horn. Violence is going to he here afterwards. I 
don't helieve gangsta rap is the cause of violence. — Tragedy, a.k.a. The Intelligent Hoodlum. 

Media has definitely tried to make rap it's scapegoat, no one is trying to figure out drugs or haw the guns 
are getting into the country, which should be focus. [Instead of] pointing the finger at some form of 
entertainment. — MC Lyte. 

/ think a lot of people take it seriously, certainly he's [Too Short] rwt out "mackin' the hoes" riding in a 
Cadillac, that's not real, that's show business. I think he's taken a character and developed it. As a xxry 
smart business man, [he] marketed his image. Offstage he is Todd Shaw, who is a very nice guy, when he 
is on stage he's Too Short and Too Short sells a lot of records. — Lesley Pitts, Director of Pubudty, Jive 

This art form is becoming conformed. One subject matter seems to he the only point. Somewhere along the 
line or along the powers that be, it must have been said, 'the only type of record we're going to sign is a 
record that's talking about disrespecting the opposite sex. Talking about hurting your peers or hurting or 
physically killing your competition.' — Grandinaster Flash 

Bade in the day you had a Doug E. Fresh that might do his beat box and rock the crowd and make people 
feel good. You had a Whodini who catered to the female audience. You had a Big Daddy Kane who was a 
lyrical, rhymin', battle-style artist, you had Boogie Down Productions who was like street rhymin slash 
political-socio-consciousness...You had a rainbow of styles. But now since the money, is looked at as 
coming from one ax>enue, it's like everybody is trying to rush to get through that one door. — Doug E. 

You're the buyer, so you have the choice whether or rwt to buy that material — Michael "Power" Viera 
IN THE MIX Reporter, age 17. 

/ think the solution starts with us, you have to set your goals, your standards in life. If you're going to let 
rap and violence take over your standards in life, that's really a problem, and you htnx to overcome that. 
- Kevin Bryant IN THE MIX Reporter, age 17. 



Mrs. Collins. Much more of what you want to say will probably 
come out in the question and answer session. 
We are going to go now to Ms. Glickson. 


Ms. Glickson. Good morning. 

My name is Melanie Glickson, and I am 17 years old. I am a 
high school senior in New York City and have worked on In the 
Mix, a national weekly television show for teenagers, since its birth 
in 1990. First, I would like to express my extreme pleasure at 
being given the opportunity to express my views here today. 

It has been my observation that adults often take decisions in- 
volving young people into their own hands without investigating 
the opinions of the teenagers themselves. Our ideas are often 
stereotyped as impulsive and unintelligent and therefore dismissed. 
It is a great honor to be present at a forum in which this is obvi- 
ously not the case. 

The opinions I express to you today come from the conglomera- 
tion of experiences I have had as cohost of PBS's In the Mix for 
the past 2 years. In the Mix differs from most programs in its 
unique approach to television. I have grown extremely close to the 
adults who make the show possible. They are open minded, ener- 
getic, and truly dedicated to the show's doctrine of listening to 
teenagers and refusing to preach to them. In the Mix really is a 
program for, by, and about young people. 

The current season of In the Mix will be my last one because I 
will start college in the fall. During the past two seasons, I have 
explored hundreds of issues, many concerning violence, sexism in 
music, traveling across the country meeting many different types 
of teenagers. These experiences have truly shaped my perspectives. 

Growing up in New York City, I try to listen to all types of 
music, but the presence of hip hop in my life has been unavoidable. 
The specific show relevant to today's topic is "Hip Hop: Then and 
Now." It explores the evolution of hip hop from the old school days 
of rock music to the current issues of sexism and violence in hip 
hop music, particularly in gangsta rap, basically asking what hap- 
pened between then and now to cause such a profound shift in the 
messages of the music. 

We chose to explore the hip hop controversy because of the tre- 
mendous impact that the music has on young people in addition to 
the growing misconceptions and concerns as to its influence on 
teenagers and society as a whole. 

The purpose of the show was not to preach gangsta rap is bad 
or gangsta rap is good but merely to expose the issues at hand, lay- 
ing out the arguments and allowing young people to make their 
own decisions as to their opinions on this topic. We believe that 
this approach of presenting the facts and letting the teenagers 
themselves decide how they feel about it is the only way to give 
young people the voice they need. 

Having interviewed a large number of the major hip hop artists 
in addition to having spoken to hundreds of teenagers nationwide, 
I feel that I can represent a viable portion of the teen population 
in the views I express to you today. 


Hip hop is not simply a genre of music that kids like to listen 
to before going on their nightly drive-by, it is a culture, a way of 
life, and a means of expression of society's joys and ills. Its beat 
and rhjrthm speak to us, making us want to move. Like all art 
forms, the topics that hip hop addresses are reflections of what is 
going on in society. 

There is a reason that the entire entertainment industry has 
taken an extremely violent route, and there is a reason for the fact 
that rap in the late seventies and early eighties was much more 
innocent. Society has taken a tremendous turn for the worse in 
terms of life on the streets and issues such as education, poverty, 
drugs, et cetera. This turn is reflected in many aspects of our cul- 
ture. Television, movies, the media, the lyrics of rap music are just 
one facet of this vast shift in the entertainment industry. 

Personally, the most sensitive and controversial issue in my 
mind with regard to hip hop is the portrayal of women in many of 
its lyrics and videos. Although the denigration of females is only 
one aspect of hip hop music as a whole, it is one which deserves 
considerable attention. I know I speak for many young females 
when I express the unmitigated outrage that I experience when lis- 
tening to such degradations, degradations that are present in all 
forms of entertainment in the media as well. The negative aspects 
of hip hop are symptoms of society's flaws, not the causes. 

I definitely feel that the portrayal of women by many rap artists 
creates the false sense in the minds of males and females that 
women are merely objects and sources of sexuality in addition to 
presenting an extremely destructive picture of the ideal female that 
many young women may try to emulate. This portrayal is more 
dangerous than many people realize. 

In the Mix and I have done segments on sexual harassment, dat- 
ing violence, acquaintance rape, and eating disorders, and I have 
observed how susceptible a female's self-image is to male criticism. 
There is enough of a problem with pornography, magazines, and 
the media telling women what is beautiful without our music tell- 
ing us as well. 

I realize that a large portion of both males and females who lis- 
ten to the lyrics which degrade women understand that the por- 
trayal is an inaccurate one. However, its overall affect is only det- 
rimental. Awareness needs to be increased, and women need to 
stop feeding into this image. 

Issues like the ones addressed today are of paramount impor- 
tance. Decisions regarding young issues and young people will not 
only affect teenagers today but have the power to determine the di- 
rection of society in the coming century. 

We as young people must begin to take it upon ourselves to make 
positive change a reality instead of just an ideal. Our voices must 
achieve the strength to be heard regardless of whether adults be- 
lieve we are capable or not. We will be the leaders in a short time. 
Our views must not be allowed to be stifled through censorship, 
however. People — and that includes teenagers — must be given the 
ability to decide for themselves what they wish to listen to. 

However, artists also have a responsibility to be true to their art 
by respecting the impact it can have. In the Mix feels that hip hop 
is a vital part of young life and that everyone is entitled to the 


right to formulate their own convictions regarding all aspects of 
music. This right must not be suppressed. 

Thank you. 

Mrs. Collins. Thank you. 

Ms. Barrow. 


Ms. Barrow. Good morning. 

My name is Andrea Barrow, and I recently turned 16, and I am 
in the 10th grade at LaGuardia Performing Arts High School in 

After taking part in the on-camera discussion of rap issues in 
this show, I have continued working with In the Mix as a reporter. 
I have been an avid listener to hip hop since the early 80's when 
I was 5 years old. I have watched rap stories change from hanging 
out with friends exchanging tales about girls and families to stories 
about hanging out, smoking, and dope, and protecting yourselves 
with gats. So when I found out that I was going to be part of a 
congressional hearing on rap music, I felt, one, how scary to appear 
before the congressional subcommittee and speak for millions of 
teens throughout the Nation, and, two, wow, someone is finally lis- 

In the Mix has not only given me the chance to speak with all 
of you today but it has exposed me to a lot 

Mrs. Collins. Would you mind pausing for a moment please? 

We will give you the time to finish your statement. Go ahead — 
because we have interrupted you. 

Ms. Barrow. OK. 

In the Mix has not only given me the chance to speak with all 
of you today, but it has exposed me to a lot of scary but real issues 
from violence to teen pregnancy to issues that affect the hip hop 
community, and it has all made me more aware of the problems 
that I hadn't taken much notice of. 

It has been my observation that through some of the images I 
see on public air waves and in movie theaters, the media, and the 
entertainment industry can desensitize many young people my age 
and give them license to act out in ways that society would have 
never thought acceptable in the past. 

On the other hand, my involvement with In the Mix has given 
me new perspective on how TV can be used more constructively to 
explore issues and communicate more positive messages which 
could have the effect of turning things around. 

I feel teenagers have not been recognized as having solutions to 
the problems they face. I would say that the adults I have heard 
from feel more or less that it is their responsibility to take care of 
the problems that affect teenagers. A far more effective solution 
would be a partnership between adults and kids. If we look at 
building this ideal relationship, I would hope that it would not be 
limited to just kids and their parents but to communities, schools, 
government, the work place, as well as the home. 

I was lucky enough to be able to take part in the process of 
change, the posse segment of the hip hop show that brought teens 
together and allowed the issues to be open for discussion. This was 
definitely a successful first step for me. Hearing fellow teens dis- 


cuss different perspectives on the issues surrounding hip hop and 
keeping an open mind about the possible solutions helped me dis- 
cover new thoughts and ideas, kind of develop a train of thought, 
and possibly come to conclusions I might not have reached other- 

Television programs that give teens a voice allow them to have 
a better sense of self-empowerment. As I see it, some rap music ex- 
presses and depicts a feeling of hopelessness. Try to picture what 
this rapper called NAS is going through for him to say, "Life's a 
bitch and then you die. That's why we get high. Because you never 
know when you're going to go." 

While we may be looking today at only one of the In the Mix pro- 
grams, it is important to know that the show is smack in the mid- 
dle of its second season and new shows and topics are seen each 
and every week. Recently I taped a segment for an up and coming 
show that deals with the way violence in Shakespeare's time is not 
unlike it is today. I was fortunate to talk with several kids after 
seeing Titus Andronicus performed in repertory in a New York City 
theater, and their reaction to the violence and death depicted — the 
play depicted was frightening. The teens totally accepted the vio- 
lence because they associated it with the need for the characters 
to gain respect. 

Looking at that experience showed me that teens are at a point 
where they tolerate violence and have come to expect accept it as 
a part of their everyday lives. From my point of view, I found it 
disturbing and sad and wanted to understand why they had 
seemed to have given up on a safe and secure future. 

By bringing in our cameras and having the students talk openly 
with In the Mix, I saw some of the teens open their mind to a few 
solutions, however small. It gave them the opportunity to react to 
the violence from a new perspective. 

As one of the newer reporters from In the Mix, I have had the 
experience of taping a segment, reporting on an important subject, 
meeting a celebrity guest, or getting other teens together for a 
round table discussion on a controversial issue. The show is edited 
and then sent to PBS. I can get so caught up in the process that 
sometimes I forget the ultimate objective, communication. 

Now why does it work? Because it doesn't preach. It is a show 
that comes down on any one point of view. In the hip hop show, 
the producers got people from diverse backgrounds together to look 
at rap music from different perspectives. This gave viewers a 
chance to consider the issues and decide whether they agreed with 
the messages and the music or disagreed, and, if they did agree, 
what they would do about it. I was one of the teens involved with 
this group discussion. After we hit on the issue of violence, we 
started to talk about rap music and the role of women, both the 
artists who performed as well as the women depicted in the music 
videos who appeared to be comfortable with being called "bitches 
and ho's." 


Some of the men insisted that the women don't — that some 
women don't protest the derogatory references to women, and they 
honestly felt that women think that this is a compliment and might 
make them more desirable. The women universally disagreed. The 
discussion broke down on a gender level, and we caught on tape 
how women who don't protest that portrayal in music can cause so- 
ciety to think that they are comfortable with this image. 

[Testimony resumes on p. 124.] 

[The following documents were submitted:] 


^^ A natirmal PR^ umAldtf urioc Inr tRAns 

a nationai PBS weeMy series tor teens 


. 1992 CPB Gold Award Winner, Local Children's Programmiog 

. 1993 Finalist for the ODie Award, youth category of this national award 

1994 Finalist for the PRIX JEUNESSE, youth category of this prestigious 

~BA late May, 19" 

international award (TBA late May, 1994) 


'It 's just the right 'Mix '...a combination of CBS ' 48 hours and MTV. IN THE 
MIX... captures that streetwise quality and it's just that touch of urban grittiness that makes 
the first show of this promising weekly series so terrific. ' That's how The New York Daily 
News greeted the 1993 launch of IN THE MIX, the weekly, magazine-format PBS television 
series produced by WNYC for, with and by teenagers. 

From rap issues to gangs, anorexia to sexual abuse, finding money for college to getting a job, 
IN THE MIX tackles the critical issues teens care about in prooing, thought-provoking 
investigative reports, providing in forma tion teenagers need to make positive life choices. Now 
in its second season on PBS, IN THE MIX captures the beat of teen life through the 
enthusiasm of its on-camera teen reporters and the insight of teens working behind the scenes. 
It combines the intensity of real stones. . . supported by m-depth background research . . . with the 
energy of music videos, sassy humor, and cutting edge production techniques. IN THE MIX 
dishes out straight talk about alternatives, not preachy messages. It is an authentic voice for 
teens across the country... a forum they can call their own... and a valuable resource for 
parents, teachers and all who care about our country's youth. 


In today's world of expanded freedom, yet reduced parental and community supervision, IN 
THE MIX brings the creative and persuasive power of television to help our increasingly 
vulnerable teenagers visualize positive role models and harmonious multi -cultural relationships 
and provide them with the information they need to choose constructive alternatives. 


IN THE MIX reaches out to teens across the country through: 
national and local youth groups 

schools and teachers who have now begun to adopt IN THE MIX 
as a valuable catalyst for class discussion and cntical thinking 
the electronic information highway, eliciting input from teens via 
Learning Link, America Onlme and Prodigy 
a national evaluation involving researchers, youth leaders, teachers 
and teens in organizations and schools across the country, 
strategic alliances with corporations like Girbaud, Sony, Fuji, Ecosport 


Extensive evaluation by RMC Research shows that IN THE MIX is extraordinarily successful 
m deeply touching its teenage audience, catalyzing meaningfijl discussion and provoking 
critical thinking. (See the attached evaluation report and summaries.) 

WNYC/TV 1 Centre St. New York. NY 10007 212-788-9700 FAX: 212-788-9707 


^^ a natinnal PR.<i wnnUv wtritK hy iaens 

a national PBS weekly series hy teens 

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Each season, IN THE MIX produces compelling, highly acclaimed public television specials, 
each focusing on a single, critically important teen issue, accompanied oy a discussionguide that 
is distributed to youth groups and high schools across the country. To date, IN "mE MIX 
specials include: 




TEENS TALK AIDS, broadcast by PBS in April, 1992, has been hailed by experts in 
adolescent development, teachers and teenagers alike, as the most powerful and movmg treatment 
of this topic they have seen. The late Lee Polk, former chairman of the National Academy of 
Television Arts and Sciences observed, "The AIDS segment is the most stunning piece of 
television I have seen in ten years. More powerful and effective than any dramatization. " 

Joy Dryfoos, author of Adolescents at Risk, agreed: 7 was in tears watching this program. I 
have seen a lot of materials prepared for teenagers, but this is far and away the best. 

An informal national assessment showed that the AIDS piece was highly effective in reaching 
teens, enhancing their understanduig and stimulating uiem to thini about safer alternative 

TEENS TALK VIOLENCE and TEENS TALK JOBS were fed by PBS in November, 1993, 
and again in January, 1994. Formal evaluation of these two specials with high school students, 
teachers, principals and community youth centers nationally by RMC Research of Portsmouth, 
NH, has shown that these programs: 

interest and engage teens, delivering important messages in an understandable, 
compelling anaage-appropriate way. 

catalyze discussion, both in and outside the classroom on critical issues that have 
a major impact on their lives. 

promote critical thinking, problem-solving, positive personal and interpersonal 
actions, as well as a greater sense of sen-efficacy and personal responsibility 
among teens. 

provide a springboard for further student research, writing, skills acquisition, 
community mvolvement, and personal goal-setting and reflection. 

can be easily adapted for use across many different curriculum areas (e.g., 
language arts/writing, history and the social sciences, economics/business, health, 
life skUls) and special programs (e.g., confbct resolution,, life skills, counseling, 
career planning, school-to- work projects). 

Each of these videos, with its discussion guide, is available from PBS VIDEO, (8(X)) 424-7963 




WNYC/TV 1 Centre St, New York, rJY 10007 212-788-9700 FAX: 212-788-9707 



from the 

December, 1993 

"Probably the strongest indication of the power of this video to stimulate useful dialogue around issues and 
causes of violence came during testing at one of the Indianapolis high school summer programs.... Students 
watched the video with riveted attention, and when the RMC researcher started the discussion, everyone 
wanted to talk at once: The entire class of less-than-willing students (many in this group were attending 
summer school because of court orders) all wanted to talk about how violence figured into their lives and 
about how they personally coped with it. In short, the session became a catharsis, helping them air their 
anxieties, fears, frustrations, and 'street smarts' at an specially stressful point in time. The building 
principal, who witnessed the session, was astounded at students' reactions, pointing out that this was 
probably the first time that they were interested in doing better in life and learning new things. (He 
immediately sought copies of the tape for teacher training purposes and for use in all high school classrooms 
during the academic year.)" (RMC Report, Dec., 1993, pp. 25, 26.) 

These extraordinary observations by RMC Research took place during their 1993 testing of Teens Talk 
Violence on 172 students (52% African- American, 8% Hispanic/Latino, 19% other minorities, and 21% 
white) from Albuquerque, NM; Springfield, MA; Indianapolis, IN. The evaluation confirmed the program's 
exceptional success in appealing to teenagers while catalyzing discussion and stimulating positive follow-up 
action. A few of the findings are summarized below and in the attached charts, reproduced from the report: 



participated in the testing of Violence found the special interesting and engaging. Throughout 
the viewing of the video, most teens raptly watched... and clearly enjoyed the opportunity to 
see and hear other teens around the nation speaking out on violence-related topics. " (p. 24) 

only did Violence succeed in getting teens' attention, but it also provoked stimulating 
discussion. This is a particularly sigmficam finding, given the many difficult testing 
circumstances.... Clearly, use of this video -followed by asking the kinds of questions raised 
in the accompanying discussion guide - by classroom teachers, counselors, or youth center 
leaders could produce even more dramatic results." (p. 25.) 

TEENS POUND EACH SEGMENT USEFUL: ("How Not To Be a Victim," 74%; 
"Violence in Schools," more than 60%; "Handling Ethnic Slurs," 59%) 

TEENS LEARNED FROM THE VIDEO; More than half said they learned from "How Not To Be 
a Victim," "Girl Gangs," and "Conflict Resolution" 




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December, 1993 

'Nearly all students who participated in the evaluation of Teens Talk Jobs agreed that the special was 
interesting, useful, and fun. Most watched the program intently, laughed at the humorous parts, tapped their 
feet or seat danced to some of the background music, and clearly enjoyed themselves as they listened. 'It's 
good! " was an often-heard remarked as the video ended. . . Just as with the Violence special. Teens Talk Jobs 
succeeded in getting teens' attention and at provoking lively class discussions. ' (RMC Report, p. 44.) 

This quote, taken from the RMC Research report on Teens Talk Jobs, shows the extraordinary effectiveness 
of this video in fuUy engaging its teenage audience, provoking discussion, providing helpful information and 
opening students' eyes to positive actions they can take. The RMC evaluation of Teens Talk Jobs involved 
170 high school students (37% minority) from five schools in Albuquerque, NM, and Indianapolis, IN. 
Evaluation highlights include: 


"I now know there are things I can do to start early on related to what I want 
to do. " (Teen comment, p. 36) 

"It's encouraged me to try to find a better part time job." (Teen, p. 36) 



More than 70% said they learned from segments on "Entrepreneurs," 
"Apprenticeships," and "Career Exploration" 

more than 60% from "Resume Writing" and "Spotting a Scam" 


44% said they were likely to do better in an interview than before 
35% said they have more work options than they previously thought 


82% of minority teens gave the segment a 4 or 5 rating vs. 56% of whites. 

"That students ' own teachers, counselors or youth center leaders could produce more substantive dialogues 
with students by using this video and asking the kinds of questions raised in the accompanying discussion 
guide seems obvious. " (p. 44) 




i ' 




based on 

December, 1993 

The positive reaction of the educators who screened the In the Mix specials was 




minority of students who go on to college, but to all students regardless of 
bacl(ground. Almost no such materials exist. Some teacher reactions (p. 56): 


'It really focused on some issues our lads need to focus on. ' 

'It 's great for (^ students. " 



See attached graphs. 

For more information about this research, contact Anne Mendelsohn at (212) 669-7753. 



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a national PBS weekly series for teens 


Weekly Series By and For Teens Announces New Format, Thematic Shows and 

Specials for 1994 

New York — IN THE MIX, PBS' critically-acclaimed magazine program targeting teens has 
begun a second season of production, it was announced today by David C. Sit, Managing 
Director of Television for WNYC-TV. The first show of the new season will be fed to PBS 
stations nationwide on April 2. 

Nominated by CPB this year for the prestigious Prix Jeunesse award honoring high- 
quality programming for teens, IN THE MIX has been cited for in-depth, cutting-edge pieces 
addressing pertinent youth issues. Several modifications have been made to the program 
including a new half-hour format and the addition of several teen reporters. IN THE MIX also 
plans to produce a number of theme-oriented, documentary style episodes this season on topics 
including teen alcoholism and the evolution of hip-hop. This format proved successfiil last fall 
when IN THE MIX aired their highly-rated "Teens Talk Violence" and "Teens Talk Jobs" 
specials. According to Executive Producer Sue Castle, "Because of the overwhelmingly positive 
response to the specials, we plan to target several shows to special themes in our second season. 
In addition to being entertaining, our goal is to serve as an ongoing resource for teens on a variety 
of issues of real concern to them." 

One of the most intriguing aspects of the second season, will be IN THE MTX's POSSE 
PROJECT designed to encourage community service participation and stimulate career 
development by involving teens in the production of the broadcast. The Posses, to be established 
on a national basis, provide feedback to the show's producers on future topics to be covered, 
summarizing teen trends, and judging music videos. Last year, the NYC Board of Education 
validated the Posse Project, allowing students to use their work with IN THE MIX to fulfill their 
community service requirements. 


i k Un WNYC/TV 1 Centre St. New York, NY 10007 212-788-9700 FAX; 212-788-9707 



^^ a national PRS weekly series lor teens 

a national PBS weeWy series lor teens 


The program will continue to feature carefully-screened music videos related to show's 
content or, as part of an interview with a musical artist. IN THE MIX's popular "Shout" segment, 
giving teens across the country and abroad the opportunity to voice their opinions, will remain a 
permanent element in the show as will "Teens Who Make A Difference" and "Student Produced 
Videos." Feature segments will be introduced by a group of revolving reporters which will 
include several new faces as well as reporters from the first season's team. IN THE MIX has been 
a springboard both professionally and personally for Melanie Glickson, 17, who gained early 
admittance to Harvard University; AJimi Ballard, 2 1 , who graduated to a full-time role on an 
ABC soap opera and will occasionally report for ITM; and 20-year-old Kevin Jordan, whose 
quest to become a producer has been aided by his participation in the series. 

Other members of the IN THE MIX team include Andrea Barrow a 1 5-year-old student 
from New York City; Julio Rivera, a 17-year-old Brooklyn native; Tamah Krinsky, age 17, who 
was a contributing reporter in the show's first season; and 18-year-old New Yorker Logan "just 
call me Logan" Campbell. 

The season opener, shot on location in Florida at the Children's Defense Fund Celebration 
features "Teens Who Beat The Odds," the stories of teenagers who were able to excel in their 
academic careers despite the pressures of an unsettled and often traumatic family life. Melanie 
Glickson and Alimi Ballard talk to Shajan Clay from Baton Rouge, LA; Tyrina Smith from 
Washington, DC; Wujin Zhou, Wellesley, MA ; Derwin Roca from Jackson Heights, NY; and 
Sharonda Watts of Washington, DC. They ask them how they faced these challenges and find 
out how they are succeeding in accomplishing their goals. Throughout the show, teens respond 
to the questions "what are the problems we face" and more significantly, "what are the solutions 
to these problems." 

In another segment, IN THE MIX visits with 1 5-year-old Fernando Ruiz, a Bronx native 
whose talent for graffiti art generated a part-time career at PolyGram Records where he designs 
album covers. On location in Phoenix, reporter Tamah Krinsky follows a group of teens who say 
the Y.M.C.A.'s DirtBike program helped turn their lives around. 

Week two takes viewers behind-the-scenes at "Loving" with Alimi Ballard, now a regular 
on the ABC soap and a contributing reporter to IN THE MIX. In addition, IN THE MIX takes an 
in-depth look at the legal rights of teens and the resources available to help them address topics 
such as education, orders of protection, custody issues, abuse and child support. Jonathan Petie 
discusses how the fear of his abusive mother inspired him to gain legal status as an emancipated 

<JLL|Ju -more- 

[TTTun WNYCAV 1 Centre St. New York, NY 10007 212-788-9700 FAX: 212-788-9707 


" a national PBS weekly seties fof teens 

a national PBS weekly seties 

Students interning at the Neighborhood Defender's Service address the rights of teens. As 
members of NDS' youth employment program, these teens regularly talk to their peers about 
legal and civil issues and how to contact a variety of outreach organizations. Other topics 
covered in the second show are tax filing for teens and a "Shout" segment on "Breaking Up." 

Other segments planned for the '94 season include a "Shame On You" style undercover 
consumer report, a piece discussing "gender bashing" with Queen Latifah, organizational tips 
from Seventeen magazine, advice on how to avoid car repair scams, the portrayal of women in 
the media and a visit to a rehabilitation center for teens exposed to the shattering experience of 
gang violence. Other newsworthy topics include date violence, moving experiences from Amer- 
Asian and Bosnian teens, a day in the life of an imprisoned youth offender, a behind-the-scenes 
look at a teen's experience of Detox and teen pregnancy. IN THE MIX will make special printed 
supplements available to both educators and viewers on four of these timely issues. Again this 
year, the production cycle will include two half-hour single-subject specials. 

In its first year of production, IN THE MIX was nominated for the prestigious Ollie 
Award. Presented by the American Center for Children's Television, the award honors vision 
and dedication to high-quality programming for young people. In addition, the pilot show for IN 
THE MIX won the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Gold Award. IN THE MIX is 
underwritten in part by the Ford Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation, The Pew Charitable 
Trusts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Carnegie Corporation of New York, the 
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and The New York Community Trust. 

IN THE MIX is a WNYC-TV production. Executive producer is Sue Castle. David Sit is 
executive in charge. Anne Mendelsohn is project director. Robert Knezevich is senior producer. 
Field producers include Harold Abrams, Jodi Daley, Kevin Delaney, Jane Hare, Steven Lemer, 
JoAim Agnes Porter, Jane Zoidis Quinn and Renee Wren. Thea Feldman Burke is senior 

segment producer. Vivien Stem is marketing/outreach director. 


PRESS CONTACT: Nichols/Feren & Associates (212) 983-9600 
WNYC-TV: Judith L. Weiss (212) 669-7749 
OUTREACH: Vivien Stem (212) 788-9720 

TiTTtn WNYCm/ 1 Centre St. New Yofk, NY 10007 212-788-9700 FAX: 212-788-9707 


^^ n natinnal PR.^ uiookht corioc tnt Ioadc 

a national PBS weekly series for teens 


IN THE MIX is a weekly reality-based television magazine show with, for, and about 
teenagers. Hosted and reported by teenagers, each program deals with the realities of 
contemporary teenage life - its challenges, choices, opportunities, and joys while sharing 
advice and offering self-help resources. Also featured are celebrity interviews and topic 
related music videos. Carried nationally on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), IN THE 
MIX is a production of WNYC-TV, New York. 

Program Length: 

Series Duration: 

Second Season Premiere Date: 

Produced By: 


Executive Producer 
Executive in Charge: 
Project Director 

Senior Producer 

Senior Segment Producer 


30 minutes 

52 weeks 

April 2, 1994 (Check local listings) 


Melanie Glickson, Kevin Jordan, Tamah Krinsky, 

Nathan Marshall, Andrea Barrow, 

Logan Campbell, Eddie Vichadith, & Julio Rivera 

Sue Castle 

David Sit 

Anne C. Mendelsohn 

Robert Knezevich 

Thea Feldman Burke 

Harold Abrams, Jodi Daley, Kevin Delaney, 

Renee Wren, & Steven Lemer 

Fimding: Corporation for Public Broadcasting, The Pew Charitable Trusts, The Ford 

Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, & The New York Community 
Trust, The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The Aaron Diamond Foundation, 
The Nathan Cummings Foundation 

Press Contact: 

Nichols/ Feren & Associates/ (212) 983-9600 
Judith L. Weiss/ (212) 669-7749 

Marketing/Outreach: Vivien Stem 

WNYC/rv 1 Centre St. New York, NY 10007 212-788-9700 FAX: 212-788-9707 


a national PBS weekty series for teens 


IN THE MIX, a weekly 1/2 hour TV magazine show for young 

adults is hosted by an ethnically diverse ensemble of teens. The 

show is a blend of issue-oriented segments, celebrity profiles, 

consumer reports and music videos. A cadre of dynamic, 

^^^^^^^^^^^^^ inquisitive teen reporters cover topics ranging from AIDS to 

!• what is in the mix~| violence, suicide to eating disorders; model scams to buying used 

^^■^^~~^"^^— ""^ cars. Our teens have talked with MTV's Bill Bellamy and Blossom's 

Joey Lawrence, Grammy Award wanning Salt & Pepa and Jazzy 
Jeff & the Fresh Prince, The Spin Doctors, Christian Slater, Dr. 
Ruth Westheimer, A Tribe Called Quest Geraldo Rivera, Kadeem 
Hardison, members of baseball's Philadelphia Phillies and 
basketbedl's New York Knicks, among others. 

Regular segments include: SHOUT (It Out) where teens in cities 

throughout the United States voice their opinions on topics ranging 

!• only on in the mix I from Parents to TV Commercials to Relationships; Teens Who Make A 

Difference which highlights outstanding teens nationwide; and 
Student Shorts, featuring student-produced videos that get national 
exposure on IN THE MIX. 

Groups of teens, known as IN THE MIX POSSES, scrutinize each 
episode. POSSES work behind-the-scenes to critique episodes and 
generate segment ideas. The groups develop topics and research 
ideas to assist producers, screen and select student and music 
videos, and they also work "on-line" to communicate with teens 
across the counby and answer viewer mail. The producers strongly 
encourage all viewer-based suggestions. 

IN THE MIX premiered in February 1993 and airs nationally on 
PBS stations. Season I consisted of 39 original one hour shows, 
including two specials. Season II features 26 original episodes, two 
specials, and a new 1/2 hour format. IN THE MIX has received 
acclaim from television critics nationwide, nominated for the 
prestigious OUie Award, and winner of a CPB Gold Award for 
Children's programming. 

• teens behind the 
scenes at in the mix 

• award winning 
in the mix 

WNYCnV 1 Centre St. New York, NY 10007 212-788-9700 FAX: 21 2-788-9707 


MONDAY, APRIL 25, 1994 

PBS is 'In the Mix' with 
serious talk about rap 

In the Mix: 

Rap Music: Then and Now 

PBS, through Saturday 
(check local listings) 
(out of four) 

By James T. Jones IV 

Hip rap music on stodgy 
PBS? Has the genre finally got- 
ten too big to ignore? Or too 

Both, actually. 

PBS' half-hour youth-orient- 
ed-issues show. In the Mix, a 
teen version of 60 Minutes, 
turns a critical spotlight on the 
music that has enraptured 
Generation X and perplexed 
baby boomers. 

The report. Rap Music: 
Then and Now, traces the 
genres history, from its begin- 
ning in New York's Bronx in 
the '70s to its current popular- 
ization via gang^ta rap. 

Using videos, black-and- 
white hues, and MTV-styled 
camera work. In the Mix cer- 
tainly looks like the hippest 
show PBS has done in a while. 

And Mix's teen reporters 
never fail to ask the tough 
questions. Why does gangsta 
rap denigrate women? Does 
the music promote violence? 
Should there be censorship? 
However, these questions have 
already been asked, answered 
and debated in countless other 
TV shows. 

What makes In the Mix 


stand out is its inclusion of rap's 
pioneers: Grandwizard Theo- 
dore, Grandmaster Flash (rap- 
per of The Message), Whodini, 
Doug E. Fresh and especially 
rap's first DJ, Kool Here — the 
unsung founding father of hip- 
hop. After languishing in obscu- 
rity for nearly a decade. Here 
explains how he originated hip- 
hop by emphasizing break 
beats — percussive parts 
pulled from recorded son^. 

But his comments are all too 

So are the others', and some 
beg for clarification. Alan 
Light, music editor for Vibe 
magazine, calls Sugarhill 
Gang's '79 Rappefs Delight the 
first rap record. Actually, that 
honor goes to Fatback Band's 
King Tim III. However, Delight 
was the first to break through 
the Top 40. 

The show gets serious when 
Mix reporters blast gangsta 
rap for its misogyny. The rap 
pioneers also disapprove of it, 
but no one ever explains where 
gangsta rap came from (the 
West Coast if you were wonder- 
ing), or why the style emerged. 
And it would have been nice to 
have heard from a gangsta rap- 

The segment ends with a poi- 
gnant discussion of teen shoot- 
ings, violence and death. Is 
there a connection to rap? Stay 



Monday, January 25. 1993 

It's just the right *Mix' 

PBS magazine series for teens off to a fine start 


Daily News Oeowty Feaiufei Edtof 

AS A TEENAGER growing up on Long Island, 
I envied New York City kids. They were al- 
ways jusl a lutle more hip, a little more cool, 
a litile more sophisticated 

"In the Mix," a new newsmagazine by and Tor 
teenagers produced for public broadcasting sta- 
tions by WNYC-TV here, captures that streetwise 
quality, and it's just that touch or urban grittiness 
that makes the Tirsl show or this promising weekly 
series so terrific It premieres tonight at 9 on 
WNYCCh 31 (On Feb 14. it will begin airing Sun- 
day nights at 7 — opposite "60 Minutes" — on 
WNET'Ch 13 ) 

To get the feel for "In the Mix," imagine a combi- 
nation of CBS '48 Hours " and MTV hosted by four 
mosaically correct and attractive city teenagers 

Segments on the first fast-moving program, sug- 
gested and reported by teens, cover tattoos, how 
teenagers feel about the opposite sex, steroid 
abuse among teens, hip hop culture and interviews 
with Ian Zicring of "Beverly Hills 90210" and La- 
Tova Hunter, the local teenager whose diar> was 
recently published Between segments are music 
videos by Marky Mark. Temple of the Dog. Bell Biv 
Dcvoc and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

The pace is rapid and the camera moves quickly, 
using techniques familiar to MTV-watchers The 
language is to the point 'Tattoos," says one of the 
CO hosts. Jennifer Lee "Some call them art Some 
call them gross " Thai's about right 

TO THE CREDIT of all involved, the seg- 
ments come across as neither slick nor su- 
perficial, and the deft camera work never 
goes over that line where it becomes intrusive, or 
worse unwalchabic The co-hosts - Alimi Ballard, 
Mclanic Glickson. Kevin Jordan and Lee - are 
charming, likeable and, most important, not too 

According to Sue Castle, producer of "In the 
Mix. " the show was conceived as an antidote to the 

REPORTING CREW: (clockv.ise from top) Melame 
Glickson. Kevin Jordan, Jennifer Lee and Alimi Ballard, 
tonight on WNYC/Ch. 31. 

kind of racial misunderstanding that erupted in the 
disturbances in Bedford-Stuyvesant two summers 
ago It promises to take on important issues such as 
pregnancy prevention, AIDS prevention, child and 
substance abuse, and nutrition and consumer edu- 
cation in its stew of entertainment and information 
Despite that heavy burden, the program in its 
first outing comes across as neither preachy nor 
smarmy "In the Mix " is simply smart and fun. and 
no doubi will prove to be for parents as well as their 



January 1994 




v.V^: Melanie Glickson, 17. Wha-t she does: 
Hosts In the Mix, a TV show on PBS by 
and for teenagers. EoWc she get that 
Z-zz': While tagging along with some buds 
who were auditioning for the show, 
Melanie decided to try out. Ten call- 
backs later, she got 
the job. Sz'T.ool 
s-uff : Studied 
dance, music , 
and theater at 
The Da I ton 
School , in New 
York. Says her 
background helps, 
but "I'm just being 
myself-turned up a 
notch for the cam- 
era." Vr.j- does she 
dr it? "I get to 
meet interesting 
people, from teenage cowboys to 
seventeen-year-old convicts." rt-.-iize^-i€v-5 : Christian Slater. Kadeem 
Hardiscn, Ian Ziering. i:..c-'£ r.ts:. ; Har- 
vard, Bro\i«m, or Duke University to study 
premed or broadcast journalism. — R.G. 

^ t^es it 


March 29, 1993 

Appeared in 185 newspapers 
Total circulation 4,938,731 

PBS mixes it up witli 
teens on new series 

By Frazier Moor* 

The Associated Press 

NEW YORK - A tell-tale sign 
that "In the Mix" knows teens is 
all the chow. On this weekly 
PBS magazine series for young 
people, expect lots of food and 
lots of eating. 

Witness "Mix" host Alinii Bal- 
lard happily noshing his way 
through an interview with a si- 
milarly bottomless Kadcem 
Hardison ("A Different World") 
at a Greenwich Village diner. 
The segment has an authentic- 
ity, not to mention joie dc vivre, 
that Barbara Walters sipping tea 
with ZbigniewBrzezinski would 
be hardpresscd to match. 

Eating on "In the Mix" repre- 
sents not just a happy pastime 
for teens. It also reflects their 
hunger for life and answers to it. 
an appetite to which this scries 
caters most appctizingly. 

Produced by New York's 
WNYC-TV, "Mix" likes to say 
that it's for, by and \^.^th teen- 
agers. Besides Ballard, hosts arc 
teens Kevin Jordan and Mclanic 
Glickson. Teens report stories. 
Teens sound off on a variety of 

"They are so bright and arti- 
culate, street-smart and con- 
cerned," says the show's execu- 
tive producer. Sue Castle, who. 
though no longer a teen, can 
count among her "Mix" creden- 
tials recently parenting two 
daughters through their teen 

If "In the Mix" is any indica- 
tion, Castle has a handle on the. 
teen world. 

Among the half-dozen i cpurls 
that go into an hour-long "Mix" 
might be a refreshingly even- 
handed look at urban graffiti 
(Jirt? vandalism'.'); an examina- 
tion of racial slurs; n how-lo on 
preparing a resume; a segment 
on the tattoo craze that {^cnily 
cautions against, yet rclu.^es lo 
preach; a moving stoiy on how 
classes in conflicl resohnion 
have helped curb killings 
among the student body of a 

Associated Press 

A new PBS series for teens will be hosted by, from left, Kevin Jordan, Mela- 
nie Glickson and Alimi Ballard. The show, "In the H/lix," will be a magazine- 
type news and entertainment interview program. 

South Bronx high school; y pro- 
file ofNatalic Merchant, siiigor- 
songwritcr with the popular 
band 10.000 Maniacs; and ii visit 
to an Ohio high school that's so 
financially strapped, its stu- 
dents have to pay slilT fees to 
play organised si^orts. ] 

The diverse menu on this 
week's show (check local list- 
ings) includes a piece on .\1DS 
and a report on wluic 1 > get 
scholarship money. 

.Ml this, jilus lour niusir vid- 
eos per show. 

Come to Ihink of it. much of 
"In the Mix " has the lool. ;ind 

feel ol n rock video. Quick cuts. 
Wandering camera shots. Black 
and white intercut with color. 

Yet there's a solid magazine 
show beneath the hip veneer — 
anil the recurring food motif. 

"Teens want to be heard," 
says producer Castle. "They 
don't want to be in the news only 
when thcNNe done something 

She goes on to acknowledge 
the show's locus on food, and re- 
l>oits its impact on the show's 
bottom lino: The catering bills 
arc among the biggest 





April 9 to April 15 
Norfolk Daily News 

Reporters for PBS IN THE MIX" Include (clockwise from top) Tamah Krinsky, Kevin Jordan, Logan 
Campbell, Melanie Glickson, Andrea Barrow and Julio Rivera. 

Teen show in second season 

New York - "IN THE MIX', PBS' 
critically-acclaimed magazine pro- 
gram targeting teens has begun a 
second season of production. 

The show airs Sundays at 6 p.m. on 
the Nebraska ETV Network. 

"IN THE MIX- has been cited for 
in-depth, cutting-edge pieces ad- 
dressing pertinent youth issues. 

Several modifications have been 
made to the program including a new 
half-hour format and the addition of 
several teen reporters 

"IN THE MIX" also plans to pro- 
duce a number of theme-oriented, 
documentary style episodes this sea- 
son on topics including teen alcohol- 
ism and the evolution of hip-hop 

One of the most intriguing aspects 
of the second season, will be a Posse 

Project designed to encourage com- 
munity service participation and 
stimulate career development by in- 
volving teens in the production of the 

The program will continue to fea- 
ture carefully-screened music \ideos 
related to the show's content or, as 
part of an interview with a musical 

The show's popular "Shout" 
segment, giving teens across the 
country and abroad the opportunity 
to voice their opinions, will remain a 
permanent element in the show as 
will "Teens Who Make A Difference " 
and "Student Produced Videos." 

Feature segments will be intro- 
duced by a group of revolving report- 
ers which «ill include several new 
faces as well as reporters from the 

first season's team. 

"IN THE MIX" has been a spring- 
board both professionally and per- 
sonally for Melanie Glickson, 17, who 
gained early admittance to Harvard 
University; Alimi Ballard, 21, who 
graduated to a full-time role on an 
ABC soap opera and will occasionally 
report for the show; and 20-year-old 
Kevin Jordan, whose quest to become 
a producer has been aided by his par- 
ticipation in the series. 

Other members of the "IN THE 
MIX" team include .Andrea Barrow a 
15-year-old student from New York 
City; Julio Rivera, a 17-year-old 
Brooklyn native, Tamah Krinsky, 
age 17, who was a contributing re- 
porter in the show's first season ; and 
18-year-old New Yorker Logan "just 
call me Logan" Campbell. 


/jj- ir^ 






















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Current Viewer Mail 
pril, 1994 

Contact: Vivien Stern 

Market ing/Outt 
(212) 788-9720 

— f^«2cr.tTC,/vl Mt 



Dear In The Mix, 

I have watched many of your programs dealing with 
teenage problems and solutions. I think that this free 
and open way to tackle problems is different. It is in 
touch with today's youth and their life. "In the Mix" is 
in a class of its ovm, and I feel that it reaches many 
people. I know it reaches me, and opens my mind to a lot 
of new things. 

I cane upon the heart of the program when I saw the 
one dealing with the camping trip. Towards the end there 
was a segment about abuse as a child and a survivor 
telling her story. I feel that this message of rising and 
walking can get across to people, and let them make the 
decision to get help. 

I look forward to many more "In the Mix" programs, and 
hope that your ideas will grow and touch others as they 
have touched me. 

At the end of each program you ask about any 
suggestions. Hell, I wanted to suggest having a writer's 
contest. With short stories and poems. The winning 
stories would be published or read on a show. I hope you 
can use my idea. And thank you for having a great show 
for all the young people out there. 

— Could you play the "Sleeping Satellite" (by Tasmin 

Archer) music video on your next show? If you do dedicate 
it to Thandi, my best friend. Thanks. — 

Always , 
i^arco Castro 


leKphooe 1212) 862-7474 - 5 
fax (2121 a«2-32J5 

Chainnan, Detcon Board 

ChuKh Clerk 

Miniaer ot Music 



Cha/rman, Jnjstet Board 


April 7, 1994 

Mr. Marvin J. ColeBan 

In The Mix 


1 Centre Street 

New York, NY 10007 

Dear Mr. Coleman: 

Thank you for sending a copy of a special fonaat - breaking 
episode of "In The Mix", entitled 'ThB Hip Hop Experience". 

I think the show is great. I believe that it will be very 
powerful, and I thank you for calling it to my attention. I will 
help to circulate information in our Church Bulletin and I hopte 
that young people will watch it. 

"Keep the faith". 


Butts, III, D.Min. 



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February 13, 1994 

"In The Mix" 


1 Centre Street 

New York, New York 10007 

Dear Producers: / 


This letter is to thank you for a segment of the episode of your progranfl 
which aired today on KQED here in San Francisco. The story I am responding to is 
the one that dealt with HTV and AIDS and how it affects young people. I am HrV+ 
and 24 years old. 

I was especially proud of the way in which you introduced the two people 
with HFV disease who were among the group. By beginning with the group talking 
about dating, it really let us see your positive guests blend in with everyone else in 
the room. One of the most frustrating parts about trying to get through to young 
people about HIV is that they think that, one they can't get it and, two that they 
can tell if someone has it. Your segment dealt with both of those by letting the 
conversation follow a natural (or so it seemed) course. The environment these 
young people created in their group was very real and close to home. I think this 
piece will really hit home with a lot of younger people who are sexually active. 

It is also good that you focused the topics by the guests you selected. In 
choosing two heterosexual {>eopIe with HTV disease who had contracted it though 
sex you targeted the fastest growing segment of people who are testing positive. I 
was very saddened to hear at the end of the piece about the young man's death. It 
must have been a very emotional segment for your team to work on. 

I am currently taking the last in a series of AIDS/HTV related classes at San 
Francisco State University called "AIDS and People of Color". I will share this 
program with them and encoiu-age the professor to conuct you about getting a copy 
to show to her classes. 

Again, I applaud you for your focus, daring, and sensitivity in dealing with 
this subject. "In The Mix" is an excellent program. I wish your show continued 
success in tackling the issues that face yoimg women and men today. Thank you. 


[ySA^QiVL Halverson 

ITM letter frafli San Prancisco/ Califacnia 


P.O.BOX 25923 RICHMOND. VIRGINIA 23260-5923 

January 13, 1994 

Sue Castle, Executive Producer 
161 Wilburn Street, 22nd floor 
New York, NY 10038 

Dear Sue: 

It was a pleasure talking with you about the possibility of the Impact on 
Youth production crew coming to New York to produce a segment about the Mix 
for its television show. Impact on Youth is a non-profit organization that 
broadcasts on Continental Cablevision in Richmond, Virginia. Continental 
Cablevision is installed in over 110,200 households throughout the 
Metropolitan Richmond area which includes the counties of Henrico, Hanover and 
Goochland, Virginia. Impact on Youth is also seen on the local cable channel 
in St. Maarteen, N.A. in the Carribean and five (5) to eight(8) minute 
segments about various special topics for youth are developed for broadcast on 
the Virginia Statt Department of Education Satelite channel. 

As a result, our segments are viewed in schools all over the state of 
Virginia. Additionally, Impact on Youth,, would like to thank you for sending 
us copies of your specials about violence and jobs for teens. Last year we 
broadcasted the special on Aids that we received from you. We presented it 
with all its credits as part of a series about Aids along with footage that 
our youth production crew taped. The series was so well received that we 
received requests to show the segments at all of the City of Richmond 
Department of Health Adolescent Cents, Richmond Public Schools and Community 

Impact on Youth thanks you for cooperating with us. We hope 1994 will be 
just as successful for you and us as 1993. We would like to continue 
developing a long and positive relationship with you. 


Donald Patterson 
Executive Director 


L^ ^C ^-/ <^^ ^ ^ tI^^.^ 

Hoa i 3Wo^ /g i^^^/ /^'-'rf F^-^'^^_ 

^ > " 


MiraVista Films, Inc. 

625 Broadway (10th Floor) New York. NY 10012 Tel (212) 677-5292 

Fax(212) 254-0915 

Robert Knezevich 
1 Centre Street 
NewYork, NY 10007 

Dear Robert, 

I don't know who's responsible or which hand I shoukJ shake directly so I'm writing this letter. I 
was flipping through the channels the other day. Something I rarely get to do. However to my 
surprise I and came across the show "In the MIX*. Being somewhat of a snob to television 
because of my film background I normally never watch public television, I guess you can say 
I'm a cable junkie. However your show on PBS grabbed me. The feeling was overwhelming 
so much that it drove me to write this letter. As a unit director for MTV segments, I have a 
great appreciation for the importance of reaching out to young viewers through images, style 
and music. 

Basically I just wanted to say - Whoever is the creative force driving these segments deserves 
a "Bra-vo!!!!!!!". The dynamics on your segments are outstanding. Aside from the great topics, 
these segments have the rhythm and beat that's necessary to draw in the younger hipper 
generations you're targeting. The camera movement, the mixing of film and video stock, to the 
rapid cutting makes the work stand out. This letter might seem weird but as I stated I consider 
myself a specialist in this area and can recognize when a team is doing a wonderful job. Like 
any production I'm sure it cannot tie attributed to one person. The amount of creativity that 
comes out in your segments has to be a team effort. I wish I could personally congratulate the 
creative team that's producing this show. I'm currently shooting a independent feature film this 
summer titled 'CROSSTOWN* but wanted to take the time and write this letter. I eventually 
would love an opportunity to take a tour of your facilities and possibly meet the people 
responsible. You guys are doing an outstanding job. 



Richard Mauro, Writer and Director, "CROSSTOWN" 



6879 14th avenue 

November 29, 1993 

Many thanks for the lesson plans to the "In The Mix" programs 
of Movember 13, 1993 — Teens Talk ... Violence 6 Teens Talk 
. . . Jobs. 

I have used the violence program in the classroom and it 
certainly caused a lot of discussion and expressions by most 
students. I plan to use the jobs one later in the year as 
our summer break gets closer. 

Since my students are classed as "learning handicapped" it was 
a pleasure to see them in such heated debate and discussion on 
various points in the video and in real family situations. 

If there are teacher's guides or lesson plans for other episodes, 
I am certainly interested. Also is it possible to obtain past 
episodes of this series, if so I am very interested. 

Rick Sydor 
1092 Salmon Drive 
Roseville, CA 9566l-'i'i32 
(916) 782-7827 


Victor Montesinos 

50-32 31st. Avenue Apt. 6B 

Flushing, NY 11377-1309 

September 21, 1993 
IN The Mix 
One Centre Street 
New York, New York 10007 


I like to take time out to congratulate you and tho- who put this show together. It really 
speaks out and touches the teen community. The material however covered by this show does 
not necessarily cover young adults, it also discuss issues that so called adults my also question. 
The show also gives parents of any age a sample of what is going on with their lives and interest. 

I must also mention the kudos to the editing staff and producers. They really keep the 
pace when it comes to keeping audience at attention. The Documentary style of filming and 
editing gives it a home style cutting edge feel. The shorts on how young adults feel about social 
issues around the country is also gives viewers some insight as how the other side live and cope 
with their social issues. 

Since the beginning I have watched the show grow and add new features like Reel to Reel 
and the presentation of "mini movies" by students in the public schools. These addition furthers 
the strength of the show by adding diversity and trying out new things. The Consumer segment 
is fantastic, let see more of it. Young adult work and pay taxes and they also get ripped off 

In your show your always asking vie\yers about their opinion and suggestion. I have 
included a few, and here are my suggestions: 

1 .) Album reviews. Like movies consumers would like some type of idea what the album 
is like and is it worth a listen. How about a top ten listing of eilbums and songs that are popular 
around the country or in NYC. This information could be retrieved by popular radio stations or 
Tower Records or HMV music stores. 

2.) Teen Out Reach Centers. What do these centers do. How can a person become 
involved in helping others. A segment on how ilie City Volunteers Corps help others in their 

3.) How about a segment on how to gel a diver licence or driver license horror stories, 
or any other type of license that a young aduli maj ' : interest in obtaining. More segments on 
cars. A couple of shows ago you had a segment on fune-Ups. It was great. However, I know 


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New York. NY 


















Lo5 Angles, CA 





Lo5 Angeles. CA 





Chicago. IL 

Fa/orable consideration 


Philadelphia PA 





Camden, NJ 


7pm (Covers Philadelphia Area) 



Trenton, NJ 




New Bamswick, NJ 





San Francisco, CA 




Cotati, CA 




Boston, MA 





Washingtoa DC 




Pallas. TX 





Detroit, Ml 





Atlanta, GA 





Tacoma, WA 


7pTi (Seattle Coverage) 



Centralia WA 





Minneapolis, MN 


5pm, 11pm on Fn 



Miami, FL 





Pittsburgh, PA 





Sacramento, CA 





Sacramento, CA 





Hartford, CT 





New Haven, CT 



: 5 


San Diego, CA 





Indianapolis, IN 





Muncie. IN 



: 3 


Ploomington, IN 





Rock Hill SC 





Grand Rapids. MI 





Buffalo. NY 





San Antonio. TX 



WNYC/TV 1 Centre SL New YotK NY 10007 212-788-9700 FAX 212-788-9707 

I 124 

Mrs. Collins. Ms. Barrow, we reset the clock to 5 minutes after 
we had them turn off the television, so your time has expired. 

Ms. Glickson, you referred to the tremendous impact that hip 
hop music has on young people. Could you elaborate on that for 

Ms. Glickson. On the impact specifically? 

Mrs. Collins. Yes. 

Ms. Glickson. Yes. I think that the impact that hip hop music 
has is — one part of the impact that the media entertainment has, 
and I think that is important to keep in mind, but basically when 
you see people your own age thinking about women in a particular 
point of view and when you turn on the television and you see 
women dressed very scantily and shaking it, and you see that this 
is seen as an ideal, that plants like the idea in a young person's 
head that this is something to aspire to. And, yes, when you turn 
on the radio and you hear it, and you turn on the TV and you hear 
it, and, you know, you read a newspaper and you see it, and you 
watch a movie and you see it, that will all come together and defi- 
nitely have some sort of effect. 

Mrs. Collins. Now you say that the denigration of females is one 
aspect of hip hop that deserves considerable attention. Now would 
you tell us why you feel that way? 

Ms. Glickson. Because of everything I have said about women 
being portrayed in a derogatory manner and how detrimental this 
can be. I think that it is one of the most important problems. I 
think that the violence issue — the violence issue is definitely impor- 
tant as well, but I can definitely see where that comes from on the 
streets more than I can see where the misogyny comes from, be- 
cause women are starting to be able to vocalize their dissatisfaction 
more, and they are rising to power in the work place and things 
like that, whereas the streets are getting worse. 

So I can understand the outlet of violence in music, because it 
is a reflection. 

Mrs. Collins. Let many ask any of you — either of you can an- 
swer the question here, and the question that I am going to ask 
is, do you think that the record industry has a responsibility to the 
consumer, to those who buy their music, their records — either of 

Mr. Coleman, Ms. Barrow. 

Mr. Coleman. Well, as a form of what we like to say 
"edutainment" — educational and entertainment mixed together — 
we feel like we have a responsibility, and I would assume that 
since the record industry is also considered entertainment, sure, 
everyone should be responsible. 

Mrs. Collins. What do you think their responsibility is? 

Mr. Coleman. Well, I can't speak for the record industry, but I 
can speak for In the Mix, and our responsibility is to offer choices, 
to offer diverse — diversity in information, and to be responsible in 
what we put out there. 

Mrs. Collins. Well, Ms. Barrow, do you think the record indus- 
try could help resolve the concerns that youth have about the deni- 
gration of women? 

Ms. Barrow. I would have to say that I think that we are in 
charge as listeners. We are in charge of what is going on. Basically, 


I feel that the reason why the records are selling with the misogy- 
nist language is because we are accepting it. I think that the record 
industries are doing their job. It is supply and demand. Once we 
turn that around and make something else more positive, supply 
and demand, that the record labels — it is a business for them, and 
they are putting out what people are buying, and I think it is our 
responsibility as the listeners, not so much as the heads of the 

Mrs. Collins. Well, Ms. Glickson said that now women are ex- 
pressing their dissatisfaction with lyrics like that, that are 
misogynistic particularly, and if women continue to do so, do you 
think that their lyrics will change, either of you? 

Ms. Glickson. Definitely, but it needs to happen on a greater 

Ms. Barrow. Definitely on a greater level because, I mean obvi- 
ously it is not enough, because there is still supply and demand. 
There are not as many female artists out there, it is mostly the 
male artists out there. 

Ms. Glickson. Awareness needs to be increased, I think, and I 
think that is what this forum is doing as well as what In the Mix 
does, which is basically expose the issues and lay them out on the 
table, and then once people see that, once young girls see that, they 
can begin to take action. 

Mrs. Collins. Thank you. My time has expired. 

Mr. Steams. 

Mr. Stearns. Thank you. Madam Chairwoman, and again I want 
to compliment our witnesses today. I think their testimony is elo- 
quent and impressive, and I appreciate their coming. 

I want to go to the first question, to Ms. Glickson and ask you, 
you eloquently stated that the portrayal of women in much of rap 
is, quote, more dangerous than people realize, using your words, 
and obviously I agree. I guess this goes a little bit to what the 
chairwoman has said too. What should be done — and then I would 
like to Mr. Coleman and Ms. Barrow to comment — what do you 
think — besides publicizing, what should be done? 

Ms. Glickson. Aside from publicizing it, action needs to be taken 
in terms of decreasing the demand that young people have for this 
type of music, and that is not to say that I advocate censorship of 
any kind because I think that the result of that would be an in- 
creased demand, it would go underground, et cetera, et cetera, but 
the action that needs to be taken has to do with education, with 
teen empowerment, with making us feel that we have a choice in 
the things that we feel, and I think that once we decrease that 
need, whatever is going on in society to make misogjniy, to make 
violence such an issue, whatever is going on there, it needs to be 

I don't have an answer, specifically as to, you know, this needs 
to be taken, A, B, C, and D, and then we will have a great society. 
I mean I am not in a position to say that. 

Mr. Stearns. Mr. Coleman? 

Mr. Coleman. And then that makes me think that getting infor- 
mation out is a very important aspect to this, because if young 
women know that they have the choice not to buy a record or they 
don't have to buy something or if they know about an artist whom 


they may never have heard of before because they are not pro- 
moted as heavily by record companies, or something Uke that, then 
they will know that they have choices not to buy just one style of 
music, they know that there's other types of music. I mean with 
every negative there is a positive. 

I mean every record label has probably a hard core artist and 
also a very positive artist. What we like to do is offer those choices 
where you can choose the positive or the negative and ultimately 
you will have the power as a consumer to affect the record compa- 
nies, because if you are buying the positive over the negative, then 
the record companies will promote the positive over the negative. 

Mr. Steaens. Ms. Barrow? 

Ms. Barrow, I do think it is a social responsibility. 

In the tape that was played here today, some teens came up with 
solutions as to not buying some of these albums. Like I said before, 
supply and demand. It is our own power. I think like Melanie said, 
I think we need to recognize this as an epidemic so it can't just be 
us over here saying, "Well, look there is a problem", we all need 
to realize this problem and take care of it because it really starts 
with the listeners. If you are going to accept it, if you are going to 
accept these derogatory l3n-ics, then it is just going to keep on esca- 

Censorship, I don't think is something — is a solution. I think it 
is the Grovemment's responsibility to deal with some of the prob- 
lems in the communities, then maybe the rappers and the artists 
won't have to speak on such horrible conditions that they are in. 

Mr. Stearns. Let me quote from Don Cornelius who is a host of 
the TV show "Soul Train." He had suggested in our last hearing 
and sort of advocated a more stringent system of record labeling 
than the current parental advisory. Let me go to the heart of ques- 
tion here. Using his language and what he has advocated, a more 
stringent language put on the recording material, how do each of 
you feel, just real briefly, if you could go, and do you think that, 
as he suggested, that a workable rating system would be des- 
ignated? And let me start with Mr. Coleman. 

Mr. Coleman. I think that could be effective, but it is almost like 
the movies where you have rated R movies and PG movies. If the 
person that is taking the ticket money at the box office isn't screen- 
ing a 14-year-old from getting into an R-rated movie, then it may 
not be effective. 

Mr. Stearns. Do you think, Mr. Coleman, it could be effective 
like it is in the respect that in movies we have it? 

Mr. Coleman. It may do more harm than good. It may promote 
even more a record, a violent record. 

Ms. Glickson. Definitely. 

Mr. Coleman. I mean it has been proven that when you promote 
a television show that says, "Graphic scenes included", more people 
tune in. 

Mr. Stearns. But sometimes a movie that is X rated or R rated 
sometimes, with some individuals, they say, "I'm not going to go 
watch that", because they know about it. 

Madam Chairwoman, I would like to just have the other two wit- 
nesses answer. 

Mrs. Collins. Sure. 


Mr. Steakns. Ms. Glickson. 

Ms. Glickson. First, I am curious as to who will be the people 
who rate the records. I mean adults? White males? That is defi- 
nitely a consideration. 

Also, I don't know if you remember the whole big controversial 
scandal about a year or two ago with Ice Ts Cop Killer, that the 
record sales completely increased once it was prohibited, and I 
think that is exactly what would happen. That is what has hap- 
pened throughout history; once something has been forbidden, 
there is a black market and it goes underground, and it is made 
even more desirable, and it would make a kid even cooler to own 
that, you know, if adults were saying, "No, you can't." That is what 
I feel the effects would be. 

Ms. Barrow. I agree with both of them. I think like a label — like 
an R-rated label attracts people because it is seen as, "No, we can't 
do this, we can't do this", well, a kid feels he has power if he is 
doing something that he is not supposed to listen to, and I don't 
think it would be effective — personally, I don't think it would be ef- 
fective at all, I think it would have the reverse effect and sell 
many, many records because it is kind of like, "We don't want you 
to hear this." Well, all these kids are curious: What am I not sup- 
posed to be hearing? 

Mr. Stearns. Yes. I believe my time has ended, Madam Chair- 

Mrs. Collins. Let me just ask a couple of real fast questions, 

Ms. Glickson, someone in the back handed you a note. Can you 
tell us what that was — someone sitting behind you. 

Ms. Glickson. This is Vivien Stem. She is our outreach director 
of In the Mix. 

Mrs. Collins. With In the Mix? 

Ms. Glickson. Yes. 

Mrs. Collins. OK. Thank you. 

I just had a couple of quick questions — very, very quick. I believe 
that Ms. Barrow said the Government should deal with the prob- 
lems in the community and then the record industry would be 
cleaned up. 

You know, we have heard that before Ms. Barrow, but let me say 
this to you, that there have always been problems in the commu- 
nity. You know, we have been studying sociology forever, socio- 
economic conditions forever, and the music that we have now may 
be a reflection of what we have, some of the things that are going 
on in the community which are not good, but prior to this time the 
music was not nearly so harsh, you know. There were musicians 
who spoke about the conditions in communities, what is going on, 
you know, and others, other music that talked about that. 

Years ago, Billie Holiday sang about strange fruit and other 
things that were happening in a society that was very, very dif- 
ficult in which to live, but the music itself did not use the harsh 
words that you describe in your testimony. You know, the state- 
ments were not derogatory, they were not sexually explicit, and it 
is my belief that these are the kinds of lyrics that just should not 
be there. 

Now the Grovemment is not here to censure, we cannot censure, 
we don't want to censure in this subcommittee. What we want to 


do is to make sure that this kind of music is not on the scene at 
all, that kind which is derogatory to women and exploits violence. 

The question is, I think it was in your testimony, Ms. Glickson, 
you mentioned about the beat. It is a great beat. I happen to like 
the beat of rap, myself. I wish I could do some of the dances that 
you do, but I can't. But the thing is, if it is the beat and if it is 
the music, if the Ijn-ics were cleared up, it would be perfectly so- 
cially acceptable and just as enjoyable, and I hope that you would 
think about that, and all young people would think about that inas- 
much as you say, Ms. Barrow, that it is, in fact, the consumer who 
has the responsibility in your eyesight, so when you go to buy your 
rap music or your hip hop, that you would keep those things in 

Thank you very much for appearing before us. You have been 
good witnesses. Thank you very much. 

Mrs. Collins. Our next panel will consist of Mr. Paris Eley, who 
is the executive vice president of Motown Records, and Ms. Hilary 
Rosen, who is the president of the Recording Industry Association 
of America, RIAA. 

Would you come forward, please. 

Mr. Eley, why don't we begin with you. 


Mr. Eley. Grood morning. Madam Chairwoman and esteemed 
Representative. First of all, thank you for the promotion. I am the 
senior vice president of marketing. 

Mrs. Collins. Oh, sorry. 

Mr. Eley. That is OK. It is good to be here with good news. You 
had good news waiting for me. 

I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on the very volatile yet im- 
portant topic. Given the passions surrounding the debate, I suspect 
my testimony here today will do little to satisfy the extreme fac- 
tions on either side. That is to say, like yourselves, I hold no favor 
of any proposal that encroaches upon the First Amendment. His- 
tory instructs me that repressive measures are most often invoked 
against an unpopular people, and in a society as diverse as ours 
popularity is a shifting sentiment. So for the good of us all, we 
should not assault that slippery slope. 

Now having said that, I must now say, in the strongest terms, 
misogynv has no more right to hide behind artistry than does big- 
otry. Indeed, it is bigotry. We must exercise greater vigilance as a 
society to avoid aiding and abetting the spread of either. 

As heirs to the cultural icon known as Motown, we record rap 
music. We have always reflected black America's culture even as 
we shaped it. We have recorded the great music of Diana Ross, 
Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder. But we also captured the humor 
of Richard Pryor and the monumental speeches of Dr. Martin Lu- 
ther King, Jr. Then, as now, we are our culture, and rap is an inte- 
gral part of that culture. 

One of our more celebrated rap songs is entitled U.N.I.T.Y. by 
Queen Latifah, a premier rapper, performer, and television person- 
ality. Queen Latifah is one example of the other voices coming to 


be heard in rap music. She speaks on demeaning male behavior to- 
wards women and offers an affirmation of sisterhood and self- 
worth. She denies the power of the sexual epithet to define her as 
a person and condemns degrading male behavior without self-right- 
eous posturing. Queen Latifah poses for the listeners' consideration 
the premise that abuse is not love and the precursor for physical 
abuse may very well be depersonalization. Though her own mes- 
sage has a street-wise edge to it, she delivers food for positive 

We think that is how the contest will be played out. This matter 
of entertainment versus ideology will be decided in today's market- 
place to a great extent by young consumers whose personalities 
will be shaped by their homes, church, neighbors, ana their views 
of our societal institutions. All have an impact to a greater or less- 
er degree on the moral choices our young people make. So in a real 
sense their choices will say a lot about us as well. 

At Motown, as in other companies, our employees are parents, 
uncles, and decent people, many who live in the communities most 
affected by our social ills. They too, want an environment of civility 
and respect. That is why, as a record company, we feel it necessary 
to discuss both moral and commercial implications of artistic indul- 

Finally, I say that we can ill afford to socialize our males with 
a mind set that violence perpetrated upon the female is acceptable. 
To do so is to accept an ever growing number of broken homes and 
troubled children, yet morality for our children is an enterprise 
that must be shared, it is not one in which the record company will 
be the primary source. 

I thank you for having me. 

Mrs. Collins. Thank you. 

Ms. Rosen. 


Ms. Rosen. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. Good morning. 

My name is Hilary Rosen. I am president of the Recording Indus- 
try Association of America. Our member companies distribute 
about 90 percent of all music sold in the United States. I am here 
to present an overview of the positive and important steps the re- 
cording industry has taken since this committee held its first hear- 
ing on the explicit content of sound recordings commonly referred 
to as gangsta rap. I also want to show you another side of the 
young people who are creating this music. 

First let me begin by reviewing the RIAA's voluntary parental 
advisory program. In 1985 the RIAA reached an agreement with 
the National PTA and the Parents Music Resource Center. The 
agreement specified that music releases containing explicit lyrics, 
explicit depictions of violence, and sexually explicit material be 
identified so that parents can make intelligent listening choices 
with their children. 

In 1990 we revised the parental advisory logo to make it more 
uniform. The black and white logo shown over here [indicated ex- 
hibit] is standard in size, color, and placement. It is affixed to the 
bottom right comer of an album, cassette, or CD's permanent pack- 
aging underneath the cellophane shrink wrap. The label measures 


1 by Vi inch on cassettes and CD jewel boxes and IV2 inches by 
1 inch on albums. 

The label was standardized to increase overall consumer aware- 
ness of the advisory sticker and provide parents with an easily 
identifiable means of singling out explicit recordings. Each com- 
pany, in consultation with the artist, determines which of their re- 
cordings will display the logo. 

With that in mind, four things have happened since your last 
hearing. First regarding the purchasing issue, we have reminded 
the music community, both our member companies and independ- 
ent labels, that it is imperative that companies adhere to the pa- 
rental advisory program. Compliance is the most effective way to 
exercise artistic rights while also exercising social responsibility. 
The RIAA intends to be proactive in monitoring company compli- 

At the last hearing, Mrs. Collins, you held up examples of some 
explicit recordings that had deviated from the standardized use of 
the logo. In one instance the warning sticker was smaller than it 
should have been, and in another the sticker was missing alto- 

In response, the RIAA sent a memo to the heads of more than 
250 member labels reminding them of the proper use and place- 
ment of the logo. Enclosed with the memo was a fact sheet describ- 
ing what was the proper usage, and the memo was also sent to the 
National Association of Independent Record Distributors with ma- 
terials to send to their member companies, who tend to be smaller 

Second, RIAA has recently changed our policy regarding the pro- 
gram and its use by retailers. Since 1985 we have generally op- 
posed the use of the sticker by record retailers as a basis for insti- 
tuting restrictive sales policies such as 18-year-old purchase re- 
quirements. At the time, we felt the sticker was designed to give 
parents information as to the music and the recording and wasn't 
intended to direct sales policies. We now understand the dilemma 
that local retailers face if they want to make informed decisions 
concerning how certain types of recordings should be made avail- 
able in their community. 

Third, we are beginning a campaign to educate parents about the 
logo. Labeling of any kind is only as effective as people choose to 
make it. Given that fact, we are embarking on a comprehensive 
consumer awareness program to enlighten parents about the pro- 
gram through a variety of media outlets. We ^^'ill encourage par- 
ents to use lyrics as a jumping-off point for dialogue with their 
kids, for only through this open discussion of difficult issues and 
topics do we clarify values. 

Finally and most importantly, I would like to discuss the internal 
dialogue that is occurring within the music community. The Doug 
E. Fresh interview that you showed earlier, I think, speaks prob- 
ably better and more eloquently than I can about what is occur- 
ring. No doubt there was much concern and awareness expressed 
about the purpose of these series of congressional hearings. 

However, since the last hearing RIAA has initiated a dialogue 
with our companies and artists to advise them or the concerns ex- 
pressed by legislators and political leaders about this issue. In fact. 


at the direction of the RIAA board of directors we have formed an 
ad hoc task force to discuss this issue and chart a course for the 

Artists don't underestimate the significance and importance of 
their roles in society and the social responsibility that this implies. 
They are doing wonderful things to address root causes of issues 
in their own communities. I have a list of things that artists are 
doing in my written statement. Just a couple of things: KRS 1, 
Chuck D, Ice Cube, they go to community centers, they go to cor- 
rectional institutions, they are preaching safe sex, they are preach- 
ing against violence, they are preaching against drugs, they are 
giving back to their community. Queen Latifah, Public Enemy, Self 
Destruction, are rap artists who are raising hundreds of thousands 
of dollars for "stop violence" movements. A number of artists have 
participated with the NAACP and Rock the Vote to encourage kids 
to participate in the political system. 

[The prepared statement of Ms. Rosen follows:] 

Statement of Hilary Rosen, President, The Recording Industry Association 

OF America 

My nfime is Hilary Rosen and I am the president and chief operating officer of 
the Recording Industry Association of America. 

I am here to present an overview of the positive and important steps the record- 
ing industry has taken in its responsibiUty for the exphcit content of sound record- 
ings. I also want to show you another side of the young people who are creating 
this music. 

However, let me begin by summarizing the RIAA's Voluntary Parental Advisory 
Program. In 1985, the Recording Industry Association of America reached an agree- 
ment with the National Parent Teacher Association and the Parents Music Resource 
Center. The agreement specified that music releases containing explicit lyrics, in- 
cluding explicit depictions of violence and sexually explicit material, be identified so 
that parents can make intelligent listening choices for their children. 

In 1990, after communicating with parents, record companies, and retailers we es- 
tablished through the RIAA, a voluntary, uniform Parental Advisory logo and uni- 
form terms for its placement. The black-and-white logo, shown here, is standard in 
size, color and placement. It is affixed to the bottom right comer of an album, cas- 
sette or CD's permanent packaging — ^underneath the cellophane shrink wrap. The 
label measures 1 inch by Va inch on cassettes and CD jewel boxes and IVa inch by 
1 inch on albums. 

The standardized label was implemented to increase overall consumer awareness 
of the advisory sticker and provide parents with an easily identifiable means of sin- 
gling out "explicit" recordings. Each record company, in consultation with tiie artist, 
determines which of their recordings will display the logo. 

Madam Chairwoman, labeling "explicit" product is the commitment we made in 
1985, it is our practice today, and our promise for tomorrow. 

With that in mind, let me now outline four positive steps we have taken as an 
industry since the day of the last hearing, February 11. 

First, we have reminded the music community — both our member companies and 
independent labels — that proper adherence to the Parental Advisory Program is the 
best way to exercise artistic rights while exercising social responsibUity. 

At our last meeting, you held up examples of some explicit sound recordings that 
had deviated fi-om the program. In one instance the warning sticker was smaller 
than it, should have been, in another, the sticker was missing altogether. 

In response, the RIAA sent a memorandum to the heads of more than 250 mem- 
ber labels reminding them of the importance of proper use and placement of the 
logo. Enclosed with the memorandum was a fact sheet describing the exact size and 
placement on both CD and cassette packaging. The memorandum was also sent to 
the National Association of Independent Record Distributors & Manufacturers en- 
couraging them to send the material to their member companies, who are generally 
smaller independents. 

Madam Chairwoman, the Parental Advisory Program is an effective tool. There 
should be little doubt as to how seriously the industry takes this program. 


The Parental Advisory Program is a positive response of the music industry as 
responsible corporate citizens to provide useful information to parents or guardians. 
In so doing, the Parental Advisory Program places the decision on who and what 
to hear, where it belongs with the family or guardian. 

The second step — and perhaps the most difficult to take was a change in RIAA 
policy regarding the Parental Advisory Program. Since 1985, we opposed the use of 
the sticker by record retailers as a basis for instituting restrictive sales policies, 
such as a requirement that individuals be at least 18 years old to purchase record- 
ings that carry the warning label. At the time, we felt that the sticker was designed 
to give parents information as to the music contained within the recording, and was 
not intended to direct sales policies of retailers. 

We now see the benefits of local record retailers using the label to make informed 
decisions concerning the types of recordings they should make available to their 
community. It is a difficult, but appropriate, activity for some retailers, and we sup- 
port our customers. 

The third step we have taken is to educate parents about the Parental Advisory 
Program. Labeling — of any kind — ^is only as effective as parents or guardians choose 
to make it. Given this fact, the RIAA has recently embarked on a comprehensive 
consumer awareness campaign to enlighten parents about the program. Through 
television, radio and print media, we will encourage parents to use lyrics as a jump- 
ing off point for dialogue with their children. For only through the open discussion 
of difficult issues and topics do we clarify values. 

Our proactive media campaign will endeavor to engage parents in the music buy- 
ing habits of their children, thus empowering parents — not the government — with 
the task of defining famDy values. 

The final, and perhaps most important, step taken by the industry has been an 
internal one. The RIAA has initiated a dialogue with our member companies and 
their artists to advise them of the concerns expressed by legislators, political lead- 
ers, and parents about this issue. This dialogue has led to a greater understanding 
within the companies of the seriousness of these concerns and to more discussions 
within the broader community. Suggestions have included setting up forums for dia- 
logue with artists and kids, supporting artists and record companies in their efforts 
to play a positive role in the political process by encouraging young people to reg- 
ister and vote, organizing voter-registration drives with Rock the Vote at summer 
concerts, and other activities. Our member companies do not underestimate the sig- 
nificance and importance of their social responsibility and their role as good cor- 
porate citizens. 

Madam Chairwoman, the recording industry stands ready to dedicate its re- 
sources to the communities which support us. But I fear we stand with a precious 
few. Far too many people are confused. Too many people focus on the s3rmptoms of 
violence and not Uie disease. 

If I may, let me elaborate on a few examples of what our artists have done to 
address the root causes and issues about whicn they rap. For example: 

— KRS 1, Chuck D, and Ice Cube are stars of the lecture circuit. They spend half 
their time discussing topics such as practicing safe sex, not using drugs, getting a 
college education, giving back to the commumt^ and stopping gang violence before 
such audiences as inner city elementary and high schools kids and inmates at cor- 
rectional facilities. 

— Self Destruction, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah and Boogie Down Productions 
are just a few of the rap artists who helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars 
for a special fund, within the Stop the Violence Movement, geared specificfdly at 
fighting black-on-black crime. 

— Ice Cube initiated the Brotherhood Crusade, a nonprofit organization set up 
aft;er the LA riots to help rebuild minority communities and provide aid to the 
homeless and the elderly. He's also a major contributor to Books Plus, an African- 
American literacy program. 

— Many rap artists including Ice T and Easy-E contributed to the making of 
"We're All in the Same Gang", a single and video intended to deglamorize gang vio- 

— ^And a great number of rap artists have participated in voter registration drives 
with the NAACP, Rock the Vote and others to encourage kids to participate in the 
political system. 

It should be obvious from their lyrics that these young men and women are pas- 
sionate about what they feel, and many of them translate that passion into time, 
effort and money spent trying to make a difference in a world that we — all of us 
here today — ^have created. These artists use their influential role, as well as their 
economic power, to make innumerable positive contributions to their communities. 


Because of our shared sense of responsibility, the recording industry has stepped 
up to the plate to tackle the disease and not only the symptoms. 

We respect your role as a vocal advocate for the welfare of Americans with this 
testimony, Madam Chairwoman, we want to indicate our willingness to work with 
you, through our member companies and the artists, in this endeavor. 

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. 

Mrs. Collins. Your time has expired, and more that you might 
want to say can come out in the question and answer session. 

Let me oegin the questioning at this point in time. When you 
first began your testimony, you mentioned something about 90 per- 
cent. Did you say that the RIAA does 90 percent of the sales of 

Ms. Rosen. Our members distribute and manufacture about 90 
percent of the records sold in the United States. 

Mrs. Collins. So you have a major responsibility then in what 
happens in the recording industry in the sale and distribution of 
records in our country. You would certainly agree with that, be- 
cause you have 90 percent of those sales, right? 

Ms. Rosen. Well, the individual companies have them. I am not 
clear what you mean. 

Mrs. Collins. If you are the major vehicle through which records 
are sold, distributed, it would seem to me — and some steps that 
you have already taken have been very positive steps, but certainly 
your input with the recording companies themselves would be 
very — we have a vote on the Floor of the House of Representatives, 
so we are going to go and vote, and we will recess for 10 minutes. 

[Brief recess.] 

Mrs. Collins. This hearing will reconvene. 

Ms. Rosen, I was just about to ask you that, since the RIAA sells 
or distributes 90 percent of the record sales in the country, it would 
seem to me that your suggestions to the record makers would be 
of considerable importance, and so my question is going to be then, 
are you advising or discouraging your members from releasing 
music that is highly misogynistic and highly violent? 

Ms. Rosen. I should clarify our role. We don't actually produce 
or distribute the music at the RIAA. The individual member record 
labels produce the music and distribute the music. 

However, having said that, I think that we have played a posi- 
tive role in bringing the individual companies together to talk 
about these issues and to highlight the concerns that have been ex- 

Mrs. Collins. And what has happened as a result of the meet- 
ings that you have had where you have pulled the industry to- 
gether and discussed this? 

Ms. Rosen. We have created this task force that I mentioned in 
my testimony. The task force is comprised of the most senior Afri- 
can American executives in the industry, women, other executives 
working with rap music, and our intention has been to create a dia- 
logue. We were intending to set up forums for communication with 
kids, with artists, and community leaders and policy makers. We 
are looking for ways to further support artists in their own efforts 
to play a positive role. We are looking at doing voter registration 
at rap concerts all summer, and 

Mrs. Collins. All that is good PR, but what are you doing about 
getting these lyrics out of the records, if you can? 


Ms. Rosen. Well, frankly, Mrs. Collins, I think that what has 
happened is that the sensitivity and the public communication has 
had a positive impact. I mean we have an increasing amount of 
artists like Queen Latifah and Salt-N-Pepa and others 

Mrs. Collins. Well, you mentioned those, but they are the art- 
ists themselves, but what is the record manufacturing industry 
doing, the recording studios, what are they doing? 

Ms. Rosen. I don't think that you will see the industry getting 
together to decide what artists should and shouldn't say. Those de- 
cisions will continue to be made by individual artists. 

Mrs. Collins. Well, that is not what the Wall Street Journal 
said. The Wall Street Journal said and this young lady — where is 
that article that Mr. Steams referred to? And I know you are 
aware of it — that she had good clean lyrics, she had a good beat; 
I mean it was great music that she was doing; her name was 
Boss — and that the recording studio told her that unless she used 
bad language and dirtied up her music, that she wasn't going any- 
place. She said, "I tried the straight, nice girl approach; it didn't 
work." So now she sings rap songs such as "A Blind Date with 
Boss" in which she acts out the seduction and murder of her date, 

Ms. Rosen. I don't know which to deal with first. 

Mrs. Collins. Well, just deal with the right answer, the correct 
answer, first. 

Ms. Rosen. Well, there are a couple of pieces there. The story of 
Boss is a little misleading in that Wall Street Journal article. 

The reality is that the company that eventuallv signed Boss, Def 
Jam, had no idea that she was an artist that had a different vision 
before they were presented with Boss. She came to them as a rap- 
per with her music already prepared, and they signed her and 
worked with her that way. They had no idea that she was circulat- 
ing as — a different kind of music, and that is just the truth. There 
was no image that she had that some record company told her to 

Mrs. Collins. Well, that is not the story that is here. I know you 
have read this. A year after arriving in Los Angeles, Ms. Laws and 
Ms. Moores — Ms. Laws is Boss — and this is another lady, Ms. 
Moores — walked into the office of two producers, Tracy Kendrick 
and Courtney Branch. They insisted someone listen to them rap or 
they wouldn't leave, says Ms. Kendrich. He and Mr. Branch lis- 
tened and immediately began working with them, helping them 
polish their material and giving them a place to live, and in the 
meantime he talked about how they should dress in order to be 
more effective on their records. 

Ms. Rosen. Well, Mrs. Collins, all I can tell you is that if you 
would like a clarification of Boss's career, I will try and arrange for 
her to make a statement to you directly about the facts of her life, 
but I would just encourage you to understand that the story is a 
little misleading. 

Mrs. Collins. Well, it may be misleading, but I also think that 
the RIAA has a responsibility and certainly can carry a lot of lever- 
age in this issue that is here. The issue is whether or not we 
should have these lyrics that are just terrible here and that I be- 
lieve that if you are a distributor of 90 percent of the record sales 


in this country, which are a lot of record sales, no doubt that you 
certainly have a great deal that you can say and do to encourage 
the record companies to clean up their act, because their act is very 
dirty at this point in time. 

Now you say in your written statement down here, you said the 
standardized label was implemented to increase overall consumer 
awareness of the advisory sticker and provide parents with an 
easy, identifiable means of singling out explicit lyrics. 

How many parents do you think buy this music for their kids? 
The average kid that I ever heard of in my life was the kid who 
got an allowance or who works for his money end went to the 
record store and bought a record, and you know that as well as I 

So in order to say, "Well, it is fully the parents' responsibility", 
just does not hold water. It is not fully the parents' responsibility. 
I believe it is the adults' responsibility and those who are in the 
industry making money off of these lyrics that these kids are buy- 
ing with their money. 

Ms. Rosen. Well, I think we just heard three really intelligent 
young people talk about their own understanding of the music and 
talk about how this music has fostered a dialogue within their own 

I mean the fact is, TV shows are happening, In the Mix is doing 
stories, kids are talking, and music is stimulating a dialogue 
through a vehicle they are comfortable with. The idea that sexism 
and misogyny or violence are unique to musical expression by art- 
ists in society just doesn't hold. It is going to happen with art if 
it happens in society. 

Mrs. Collins. Do you believe that the record industry has a re- 
sponsibility to the consumer? 

Ms. Rosen. Yes, and I believe we are fulfilling that responsibility 
with the parental advisory logo. 

Mrs. Collins. What do you think that responsibility is? 

Ms. Rosen. The parental advisory logo will enlighten consumers 
when music is of an explicit nature. 

Mrs. Collins. Why hasn't it done so up to this point? 

Ms. Rosen. Well, it does so. 

Mrs. Collins. No, it doesn't. 

Ms. Rosen. I don't understand. It does. It is there. It has been 
there since 1991. 

Mrs. Collins. And it has been overlooked. As you say in your 
statement, it was too small and in some instances was placed else- 
where on the tape, and you know that to be true. 

Ms. Rosen. No. I said that we recognized that there have been 
a couple of isolated incidents where the sticker was used improp- 
erly. But I think the reality is that people have not felt that the 
sticker wasn't used. I think the reality is, people don't like the 
music, and so whether or not it is labeled really isn't the issue. 

Mrs. Collins. Mr. Stearns. 

Mr. Stearns. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. 

Let me just say as an opening comment, Ms. Rosen, I appreciate 
in your opening statement where you said that the Recording In- 
dustry Association of America is now presently charting a course 
for the future, social responsibility. That is what I understand you 


to say, and of course, we would like to hear a little bit more about 
what is happening in that area. 

I want to ask you the same question that I asked the young peo- 
ple in the first panel. Don Cornelius advocated a more stringent 
system of record labeling than the current parental advisory. He is 
in the industry, a host of Soul Train. So what is your opinion about 
what he has said? 

Ms. Rosen. Well, I don't think a rating system is practical for 
a couple of reasons. Number one, if the purpose of the rating sys- 
tem is to prevent kids from getting music, it is just not going to 
happen. Music isn't like, you know, a chair, it is copyable. This 
music started in the trunks of people's cars, in the home taping 
machines, and kids distribute music to each other. So I think it the 
goal is to do that, then the goal can't be reached. 

I think the second problem, and one Mr. Eley, I think, can re- 
spond to significantly better than I, is really the subjective nature 
of ratings. Unlike video, which is the most common analogy that 
we receive about ratings, where you really have a visual picture 
and an audio script and you can put it together and there is not 
much left to the imagination, it is all right there, music is much 
more subjective. The combination of lyrics and musical composition 
allow for numerous interpretations, and I think that is something 
that would make a rating system extraordinarily difficult. 

Mr. Stearns. Mr. Eley? 

Mr. Eley. Yes, I do believe that you would run into a problem. 
I alluded earlier to Queen Latifah. How would you rate a record 
that, while it does use an expletive, does in fact promote a positive 
thought, a positive attitude? She uses the expletive but not in the 
context of what is commonly accepted as vulgarity, but we know 
that the expletive is generally used in that manner. 

Mr. Stearns. Don Cornelius also said and testified that gangsta 
rap albums are bought outside the normal retail channels. Is this 

Mr. Eley. Sir, I think — Representative — that therein lies the 
construction of what has come to be the problem. If we were stop- 
ping this because it had begun mainstream, then we would be look- 
ing at something different entirely. This music was popular pre- 
cisely because it was not available. This music was not on the mar- 
ket and then taken off. This music found its way into mainstream 
America because there are children out there who finally started 
talking to one another in languages, unfortunately, that they could 
understand, and that is our problem. It is largely societal as well. 

Mr. Stearns. Let me follow up. What is the demographics of a 
buyer of gangsta rap? Is there any demographic information avail- 

Mr. Eley. You know, sir, I would like to get you some specific 
information, but if I might, just from experience, just let me say 
I know at 18, 19, 20 years old, we work with a lot of young people 
in our offices, interns, mostly college educated. They listen to it. 
But I was surprised to find — I work on weekends in a record 
shop — that 32, 33-year-old bus drivers, workers, come in and they 
buy it; they also are purchasers of rap music. I guess a generation 
has grown up with that rap music. 

Mr. Stearns. Ms. Rosen, anything you would like to add? 


[Ms. Rosen shakes her head.] 

Mr. Stearns. Perhaps, Mr. Eley, you might also comment about 
this. When we were discussing this, the staff and I, we thought 
that, you know, why is it that gangsta rap is so different from 
other hard core types of music including heavy metal, grunge, 
punk, and other kinds of music that predominantly are recorded by 
white groups? I mean it is a more difficult question, but I think 
maybe this goes along with what you are saying, why it was sold 
and the outlet was so much different. 

Mr. Eley. I am sorry, but I really want to understand you, be- 
cause I want to give you the best answer I possibly can. Are you 
speaking of the reaction to it? 

Mr. Stearns. I am referring to the violent and the abusive lan- 
guage that is in it. 

Mr. Eley. Oh, well, I am not certain, in all due respect, that 
there aren't lyrics in some of the hard metal stuff that aren't as 
offensive and as pungent. My language was learned in Vietnam, 
and some of that stuff in this music, I can't repeat in any of it. 
Some of this is just tough language, and I have no idea. 

Mr. Stearns. So the gangsta rap, the language is also, in your 
opinion, seen in other types of music, too? 

Mr. Eley. Yes. 

Mr. Stearns. It appears, from our standpoint, it is predomi- 
nantly in gangsta rap. Would you agree with that or not? 

Mr. Eley. No, I wouldn't. I would have to differ with you on that. 

Mr. Stearns. That is my time. 

Well, if you will submit the typical demographics that you might 
have, that would be helpful. 

Mr. Eley. Surely. 

Mr. Stearns. Let me ask you sort of a concluding question, both 
of you. Some people have expressed concern about our interest in 
this issue and have indicated that some critics of hip hop and 
gangsta rap fail to acknowledge the effect of the artists' environ- 
ment on their work. Are you concerned that we are even doing 
hearings on this and that we are examining the issue of explicit 

Mr. Eley. It all depends upon context. I happen to know and ad- 
mire Congresswoman Collins' work. For many years I have known 
that. So this would be entirely consistent for her. However, I think 
that you have to be concerned about sending the wrong signal. If 
you indicate that you can't come together for bans on PAC's or 
guns or so many other things, to get together and agree that you 
could ban a form of expression by a group — by groups that are pri- 
marily black would send a wrong signal, yes. 

Mr. Stearns. No one is talking about banning here. You under- 
stand that. 

Mr. Eley. Well, yes, I do. It is just that I wanted to reiterate the 
fear that is there, because that kind of information, that is what 
flows. That is the kind of misinformation that derives from these 
hearings. That is the fear of government. 

Mr. Stearns. Ms. Rosen, do you share his same concern? 

Ms. Rosen. Well, I share his view that the members of this com- 
mittee have the best intentions and have done a lot of good work 
over the years on these issues. 


I think the concern within the music community and the broader 
progressive community is that society is very conflicted about these 
issues. Society does not agree on what causes violence. You can 
look at the assault weapons vote on the House Floor today. To say 
that if they can't agree that guns cause violence, then are we going 
to agree that music causes violence? Sexism also and misogyny is 
something that happens every day in society, 75 percent of all 
crimes involving women are sexual assault or domestic violent 

I think that it is important to have communication with the 
media. I think that the entertainment industry offers a lot of com- 
munication to demographics that other people don't reach. We rec- 
ognize that music speaks to kids. On the other hand, I don't think 
that we can always expect artists to live their life in a vacuum. 

Mr. Stearns. The parental advisory that we have here, were you 
against that when it was presented? 

Ms. Rosen. No. In fact, we created it. 

Mr. Stearns. So you are in favor of that, and you advocated that 
from day one. 

Ms. Rosen. Absolutely. 

Mr. Stearns. And, Mr. Eley, do you also, for the record, say that 
you advocate that? 

Mr. Eley. Oh, yes, sir, absolutely. 

Mr. Stearns. So both of you are, in a sense, saying that you 
favor some restriction on the recording material by putting this. 
You are on record as saying that. 

Ms. Rosen. No. I am on record as saying that when artists 
choose to make statements that have explicit content, that they 
have a responsibility to tell people that is what is in their music. 

Mr. Stearns. And that is why you favor putting this on records. 

Ms. Rosen. Right. 

Mr. Stearns. And you? 

Mr. Eley. Yes, sir, I agree. I concur. 

Mr. Stearns. So what we are talking now is, if you are against 
any more than this — ^you accept this as a labeling on your material, 
but you don't want to see any more than that, but you do advocate 

Ms. Rosen. Right. 

Mr. Eley. Yes, sir. 

Mr. Stearns. OK. I yield back my time. 

Mrs. Collins. Ms. Rosen, let me say this, that you pointed out 
that we do have a vote that is going to be in the House today on 
attack weapons — assault weapons, and they are indeed attack 
weapons — and there are other problems that we have in our soci- 
ety. The problem is that we don't celebrate it musically. That is 
where the problem lies. 

It seems to me that when we have rap that people seem to enjoy, 
the surrounding of it, when they laugh to it and party to it and 
dance to it and meet young people, each other, they meet each 
other over rap music, that is a totally different signal than the 
other kinds of ills that we have in society. 

You know, when they see it on television that some kid has got- 
ten shot or killed, everybody is very, very sorry, you know, they feel 
empathy for that family, but when they have rap music where the 


lyrics are violent and yet they dance to it and it is seen as a pleas- 
urable thing to do, that to me would seem to be just the opposite 
of what you want to have happen in your society, and so for that 
reason I think the music industry has a tremendous responsibility 
not to have that kind of language in the music that it produces. It 
just seems to me it just follows that is something that the music 
industry can do and that you as a person in RIAA can encourage. 

But I want to ask some questions of Mr, Eley. 

Mr. Eley. Yes, ma'am, 

Mrs. Collins. I certainly share your sentiments regarding the 
repressive measures against unpopular people, and you say that 
misogyny has no more right to hide behind artistry than does big- 
otry. Indeed in a sense you say it is bigotry. Could you explain your 

Mr. Eley, Yes, ma'am, I will, I think that anything that identi- 
fies a group of people or a sect for violence or for attack based on 
nothing other than the stereotypical character of that person or the 
features of that person, stereotypical or not, represents a bigotry. 
It is a dehumanization, a depersonalization, if you will. 

Mrs. Collins. And you also mentioned in your statement — and 
I am quoting now — exercise of greater vigilance to avoid aiding and 
abetting the spread of misogynistic music should be given. Can you 
tell us what you mean by this? 

Mr. Eley. Yes, ma'am. I mean that the advisory sticker would 
fall under that. I think we have to have more conversation. As I 
indicate later in my statement, we do have to have dialogue with 
our artists as they go into the studio. I just think when you speak 
about responsibility and the ones that the record companies must 
take, I think that responsible producers, responsible companies, 
must talk about the social ills and ask the — the question has to be 
raised regarding what is the art really doing. 

Mrs. Collins. Do you think that the record industry is doing 
anything at all about clearing up the lyrics? 

Mr. Eley. I think we operate as best we can given the fact that 
we don't — and maybe this is the right terminology, I don't know — 
we don't censor them I with I guess it is called prior restraint be- 
fore it goes out; we discuss it. Our music is often discussed, and 
because these decisions are not made by the same person over and 
over again, you do get a variance in the kind of music that is put 

Mrs. Collins. Well, if the recording artist comes to Motown and 
has a song, and the lyrics are — ^the beat is fine and all this other 
stuff, but the lyrics are certainly violent and misogynistic, would 
there be someone at Motown who would say, you know, "You can't 
do this", this is not acceptable for one reason or another, and then 
change — ^you know, slightly change the lyrics so that it wouldn't be 
that way? A sanitized version that would be used on the radio, for 

Mr. Eley. There are two separate issues. I will try to address 
both. Our vice president of A&R, Artists and Repertory, who is in 
charge of recording, Steve McKeever, is on record in previous hear- 
ings as having said that Motown just does not do misogynistic 
music, and that is his purview. 


As to the matter of the clean copies of the record, I think it 
makes a difference by which handle you pick it up. I think that it 
also shows when we issue the clean lyrics, it means that we don't 
want people bumping into this music unexpectedly. You have to 
ask for it, if were more explicit. So we have clean lyrics provided 
to radio stations because we don't want a child to have to bump 
into this on the radio station. So the radio and the record industry 
work together on that. 

Mrs. Collins. Well, if the radio and the record industry work to- 
gether on this, is it not possible that the radio and the record in- 
dustry and the RIAA could work together and just sanitize all of 

Mr. Eley. Well then, I must say to you, what we would be doing 
then is — there are people — and I guess we may as well admit this; 
it is proven by the fact that it is popular — there are people who 
want the other version. That is how this music came to be. This 
music was not sold out of stores, this music was not sold in record 
shops, this music was not manufactured by major record compa- 
nies, this music came from independent producers, out of the 
trunks of cars. People found it. Those people wanted it. I think that 
just under the rules of commerce, to exclude them for purchasing 
what they want as adults would not be consistent. 

Mrs. Collins. Isn't one of the reasons that they want it because 
it is out there? As adults — and we are not talking about adults. I 
mean adults can buy what they want to buy. You know, we are 
talking about teenagers, we are talking about kids, basically, who 
are buying this stuff. 

Mr. Eley. I do understand that, but the question would suggest, 
or — I am sorry — ^the proposal would suggest that we cut the music 
out for those people who do want to buy it, adults who do want to 
buy it. I mean if we just released the sanitized version, we would 
be doing that. 

Mrs. Collins. Well, you are right on that score, but I don't agree 
with that. I think it should all be sanitized anyway, but we aren't 
going to debate that any more. 

Mr. Eley. I mean from my personal taste, I might say yes. 

Mrs. Collins. My final question is, there are many misconcep- 
tions about how the recording industry works, and I would like for 
you to explain to the Members your relationship with an artist for 
the time that he or she gets a contract until the final recording is 
actually distributed, please, Mr. Eley. 

Mr. Eley. Well, an artist comes, and it depends upon what genre 
the artist is in. An artist comes; he meets with an artist and rep- 
ertory person, an A&R person; we try to decide the direction in 
which the artist which wishes to go; and then we produce music 
to accommodate that direction. At that point, it is turned over to 
my department, the marketing department. We package, we do an 
image, we interface with radio and video programs throughout the 
country to bring the music to the marketplace. That is when we go 
into our marketing mode, and from there it is a matter of getting 
into our distribution system where it is sold. That is a thumbnail 


Mrs. Collins. But before it gets to marketing, the decision is al- 
ready made about the l3n-ics that are going to be there. Is that 

Mr. Eley. The artist comes with lyrics, many when they walk 
through the door, or the producer has songs, and, you know, I have 
heard many discussions in which language has been tempered; I 
have been a party to discussions where the decision has been made 
not to go with a certain artist, and I can say with pride that at 
least some of our women employees and executives have been in 
the decision-making process as to whether or not we would go with 
a particular artist, and it happened that we didn't, 

Mrs. Collins. OK. Thank you. 

We have been joined by the ranking member of the full Energy 
and Commerce Committee, Mr. Moorhead. 

Mr. Moorhead. 

Mr. Moorhead. Madam Chairwoman, I am very interested in 
the discussion, but I have no questions at this time. 

Mrs. Collins. Thank you. 

We have been joined also be Mr. Pallone who is a member of our 

Mr. Pallone? 

Mr. Pallone. I have no questions. Madam Chairwoman. 

Mrs. Collins. Thank you very much. 

Well, we certainly thank you for appearing before us this morn- 
ing. There may be some questions we have in writing, and if we 
send those to you, please prepare to return those to us in 5 working 
days. Thank you very much. 

Mrs. Collins. Our next panel will consist of Mr. Ambrose Lane, 
Jr., who is a radio announcer in Washington, DC; Ms. Tammy R. 
Riley, who is an artistic manager for Flavor Unit Management; and 
Grand Master Flash who is a rapper from New York. 

Won't you come forward please? 

Mr. Lane and Grand Master Flash, are they here? 

Ms. Riley. I don't think so. 

Mrs. Collins. If not, then we will call up the next panel as well. 
We will call Dr. Tricia Rose, who is the assistant professor of his- 
tory and Africana studies at New York University; Dr. Robin D. G. 
Kelley, who is associate professor of history and African American 
studies at Ann Arbor, Michigan, University of Michigan; and Mr. 
Fred Evans, who is the principal at Gaithersburg High School. 

Won't you come forward, please. 

Mr. Evans, I think we will begin with you, and we will work 
down this way. 


Mr. Evans. It still is the morning, so good morning Congress- 
woman Collins and members of the committee. 


My name is Fred Evans, principal of Gaithersburg High School 
in Montgomery County, Md. I am pleased to be here today with 
you to share my thoughts about this very important topic. 

In 1954, Dr. Gordon Allport of Harvard University completed his 
classic work, "The Nature of Prejudice", a comprehensive and pene- 
trating study of the origin and nature of prejudice. Allport de- 
scribed the process of how prejudicial attitudes would be expressed 
through various levels of action from verbal antipathy to genocide. 
He defined the degrees of negative action from the least energetic 
to the most, and Allport talked about five levels. The first was 
antilocution, which is a verbal antipathy toward individuals of 
groups; the next level was avoidance; the next was discrimination, 
physical attack; and then, finally, and most severely, extermi- 

According to Allport — and I quote — "While many people would 
never move from antilocution to avoidance or from avoidance to ac- 
tive discrimination or higher on the scale, still it is true that activ- 
ity on one level makes transition to a more intense level easier," — 
that is my emphasis. "It was Hitler's antilocution that led German 
citizens to initially avoid their Jewish neighbors and erstwhile 

Rap music lyrics or any other communication form that demean 
or diminish a specific group on a continued and persistent basis 
can be utilized to justify more intense aggression or action against 
that group. The language serves to dehumanize or depersonalize 
the individuals in the group and can set the stage for more aggres- 
sive action to take place with little regard for the consequences; for 
example, separation from that group, slavery, or extermination. 
The verbal or musical aggression will not automatically lead to 
more negative action but can establish a climate of more violent ac- 
tion if left unchecked or unchallenged. 

I do not believe that abusive, violent, and misog3niistic language 
in rap music can be blamed directly for America's very serious 
problems of violence towards women or persons in different racial, 
ethnic, or cultural groups. I do believe, however, that we must ex- 
amine the anger and hostility contained in some of music, be it rap 
or rock, to discover why it exists. 

In no way do I excuse the very negative descriptions of certain 
groups and actions in the music. Language that demeans or dimin- 
ishes any group describes more about the feelings and attitudes of 
the propagator rather than the recipient. 

From my point of view as an educator, it is crucial that we know 
what our students and children are listening to and being influ- 
enced by so that we can provide guidance, leadership, and alter- 
natives. Parents, teachers, and all responsible adults must act as 
role models to correct action based on stereotypes and misinforma- 
tion. Our children must get a different point of view from the 
steady diet of TV, movie, video, and musical violence and depreca- 
tion of targeted groups. Standards must be established about ap- 
propriate and inappropriate language in school, in the workplace, 
and in the home. We must also research, study, analyze, and de- 
velop new strategies for dealing with the very real and dangerous 
problems that confront our children. It is a national tragedy that 


homicide, depending on what study you read, is the first or second 
leading cause of death for persons 15 to 24 years of age. 

My experience shows me that students react positively to pro- 
grams that enhance self-esteem and build self-confidence. Tradi- 
tional athletic programs as well as new initiatives such as mentor 
and peer mediation programs are examples. Any time that you can 
recognize a student for doing something positive, in my perspective, 
will help along the way. 

Educators, legislators, musicians, and all other concerned citi- 
zens must work together and provide positive leadership and guid- 
ance so that our children can make proper decisions about how 
they will treat one another. 

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you. 

Mrs. Collins. Thank you. 

Ms. Riley. 


Ms. Riley. Honorable Chairwoman Collins, first I would like to 
thank you for inviting me to testify to this committee on the impact 
of abusive, violent, and misogynistic language of rap music. 

I am Tammy Riley, a 25-year-old Native American Indian woman 
and an executive of Flavor Unit Management. This company is 
spearheaded by Ms. Dana "Queen Latifah" Owens, a successful role 
model, a rap artist, actress, African American woman, and CEO of 
her own company at the age of 23. 

I am here today to express my views on the lyrical and visual 
content of music, TV, and other media in the entertainment indus- 
try. I would also like to bring to the forefront a broader issue, 
which deals with the greater societal ills that have created the con- 
ditions which popularize targeting successful minority sectors of 
business and industry for public dissection and scrutiny. Social ills 
such as racism lead to stereot3T)es, economic disenfranchisement, 
and miseducation. 

Honorable Chairwoman C. Collins, I can speak firsthand as a 
victim of violent acts committed against women and abusive lan- 
guage used toward women. Therefore, I am not only testifying as 
an entertainment executive but as a woman who is equally con- 
cerned about the violence that threatens our communities. 

What is the solution? Will we even come to a solution about vio- 
lence and abusive language against women, men, children, and any 
other being, considering this country, in my opinion, was built on 
a lot of violence? 

In conclusion, I feel parents should develop realistic lines of com- 
munication with their children and shape their perception of re- 
ality and not let the media do their job or blame the entertainment 
industry for their shortcomings. Television and music should not be 
our baby-sitters. 

Thank you. 

Mrs. Collins. Dr. Kelley? 


Mr. Kelley. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman and members of 
the subcommittee. 


My name is Robin D.G. Kelley, and for the record I just made 
a couple of corrections. It is Robin D.G. Kelley. "Kelley" is spelled 
with an "ey", and I am not an associate professor, I am a full pro- 
fessor at the University of Michigan. 

While I do agree that sexism and sexist language is a serious 
problem among African Americans and in U.S. society as a whole, 
to begin to deal with this issue, we need to establish at least three 
things: One, rap music in particular draws on much older tradi- 
tions of sexist vernacular culture that has to be understand histori- 
cally; two, that misogynistic language in popular music is a symp- 
tom of the culture and circumstances we live in rather than the 
cause of sexist behavior; and, three, that censorship will not allevi- 
ate sexism. 

First, like virtually all of American culture, African American 
vernacular tradition has a very long history of sexism evidenced in 
oral forms such as toasting, the blues, and the age old "baaadman 
tales." Some of the older toasts are more venomous in their use of 
sexist profanity than much of what we find today in hip hop. 

Although it wasn't marketed like rap is today, vulgar oral tradi- 
tions have been in circulation. Indeed, one finds scholarly books of 
such vernacular poetry edited by leading scholars in public and 
university libraries and even the Library of Congress has sexist, 
profanity-ridden recordings by artists like Jelly Roll Morton in its 
own collection. 

The historic characters from the "baaadman tales" of the late 
19th and early 20th centuries such as Stagolee and Railroad Bill 
were intended to be thoroughly bad, rebels against anyone who 
stood in their way — the white man, the law, the community, and 
women — and, in a context where lynching was seen by whites and 
blacks as acts of racial class and gender domination, as a means 
of keeping so-called "niggers" in their place and stripping black 
men of any sense of manhood or sexual assertiveness. Black com- 
munities who heard these stories derived both pleasure and fear 
from these horrific tales of transgression and nihilism. That they 
were profoundly sexist goes without saying, but they were never in- 
tended to be mirrors of actual gender relations nor prescriptions for 
how to live. 

These characters were aesthetically compelling precisely because 
their transgressions were so total, so complete, and hence so 
m5rthic. Many, not all, rap artists draw on this tradition because 
they too find the mythic baaadman compelling not only for its 
sexism but for its resistance to police, to racism, to government, 
and other embodiments of authority. 

Yet we also need to ask why these sexist traditions are so com- 
pelling to so many young men of all ethnic groups. Children are 
rziised in a world where men are expected to dominate, to control, 
to be the main breadwinner, and women are expected to be weaker 
and dependent. 

Despite the limited successes of the feminist movement, men and 
women who don't fall within these roles are often treated as 
strange exceptions. Indeed, as Susan Faludi points out in her book 
"Backlash", TV shows like "Married With Children", and the so- 
called new men's movement represent an adult male counterattack 
on challenges to traditional gender roles. 


Similarly, backlash has taken place among poor inner city men, 
but with a twist. The very things associated with male power are 
more difficult for these men to achieve. Permanent unemployment 
and the constant threat of violence and incarceration has made it 
difficult for men to be the primary wage earner, achieve financial 
security, and establish patriarchal families. The shift to a post-in- 
dustrial economy in which young urban African Americans have 
fewer and fewer prospects has shaped rap music narratives about 
sexual relationships and, as in the past, women have been the tar- 
get of young men s frustrations. Indeed, except for the use of pro- 
fanity, some of these young men's attacks on African American 
women sound very much like that of conservative critics. Young 
women are portrayed as welfare queens making babies merely to 
stay on public assistance, or so-called "skeezers" who use their sex- 
uality to take black men's meager wages. So many young men see 
heterosexual conquest as a key element in achieving masculinity. 
Of course, we must not apologize for or condone this behavior, but 
if we want to eradicate sexism, we need to understand its roots. 

The idea that male dominance is normal, particularly within the 
context of a patriarchal family, is not new nor is it a product of rap 
music. Almost 3 decades ago. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan au- 
thored an influential report that said black families were dysfunc- 
tional because black men did not dominate. Women were blsimed 
for many of the problems black men face, including poverty and 
joblessness, which was particularly a function of the lack of a 
healthy masculine self-imagine. 

In other words, we need to look beyond sexist language and ex- 
plore how young men learn to be young men. Oftentimes the most 
hurtful forms of sexism do not involve profanity at all, whether it 
is the fact that women still make less money than men for the 
same work or the events surrounding the confirmation of Clarence 
Thomas in which a Senate subcommittee condoned sexist behavior 
and vilified Anita Hill. 

The push for all-male schools in inner city communities similarly 
reinforce sexist attitudes. The curriculum in many of these schools 
emphasizes male role models in their readings and in the class- 
room prepare boys for leadership roles and claim to be instilling a 
sense of manhood through discipline and responsibility. 

Mrs. Collins. Dr. Kelley, your time has expired. 

Dr. Rose. 


Ms. Rose. Thank you. Madam Chairwoman, for having me here 
today, and members of the committee. 

Abusive and misogynistic language in contemporary popular cul- 
ture is p?.rt of a much larger and very complex process of devaluing 
and oppressing women in American society. Specifically, in this 
case, I welcome open discussion on the language, ideas, and lyrics 
about black women that are the impetus for these and other recent 

However, these discussions should be part of a serious and sus- 
tained examination of the way this society continues to allow insti- 
tutional and cultural forms of oppression, most notably, class, race, 
and gender oppression, to seriously damage the lives and opportu- 


nities of African American women, and one of the central flaws in 
mainstream thinking about misogynistic language and behavior, 
and in fact in rap specifically, is that it is perceived as an aberra- 
tion, as a departure from the logic of everyday treatment of women. 
Instead, these extreme behaviors are part of a spectrum of sexist 
practices. We must come to terms with that fact. Otherwise, we 
cannot deal with this issue effectively. 

As I point out in my book on rap music, "Black Noise", rap music 
and rap video has been wrongfully characterized as thoroughly sex- 
ist, but it has rightfully been lambasted for its sexism. As my seri- 
ous attention to the music would demonstrate, alongside the rap 
songs that are clearly troubling in its portrayal of young women, 
there are many songs that are not. Still, I am thoroughly frus- 
trated but not surprised by the apparent need for some rappers to 
craft elaborate and creative stories about the abuse and domination 
of young black women. Perhaps these stories serve to protect young 
men from the reality of female rejection in heterosexual courtship 
rituals which have always been one of the primary ways young 
men establish their role as the more powerful gender. Maybe and 
more likely, tales of sexual domination falsely relieve their experi- 
ences of abuse and domination in society and limited access to eco- 
nomic and social markers for heterosexual power. Certainly they 
reflect deep-seated sexism that pervades the structure of American 

On the other hand, given the selective way in which the subject 
of sexism occupies public dialogue, I am highly skeptical of the tim- 
ing and strategic deployment of outrage regarding rap sexism. 
Some responses to sexism in rap music adopt a tone which sug- 
gests that rappers have somehow infected an otherwise sexism-free 
society. Now these reactions to rap sexism deny the existence of a 
vast array of accepted sexist social practices which make up adoles- 
cent male gender role modeling which result in social norms for 
adult male behaviors that are equally sexist even though they are 
usually expressed with much less profanity. 

Few popular analyses of rap sexism seem willing to confront the 
fact that this sexual and institutional control and abuse of women 
is a crucial component of developing a heterosexual masculine iden- 
tity. In some instances the music has become a scapegoat which di- 
verts attention away from the more entrenched problem of redefin- 
ing the terms of becoming a young man. 

Now the boastful, vulgar, and profoundly misogynistic conversa- 
tions I heard coming from the boys' locker room vents when I was 
in high cool school were not the result of listening to music — ^this 
was, of course, before rap — they were cultural rituals passed on by 
older men. They were integral facets of young men's forms, of mas- 
culine confidence building. Their language marked the terms of 
privilege for men in training. Some of rap's sexism is like high-ve- 
locity locker room chatter on CD. 

Rap's sexist lyrics are also part of rampant sexism that domi- 
nates the corporate culture of the music business. Not only do 
women face gross pay inequities in that business, but many face 
extraordinary day-to-day sexual harassment. Some male executives 
expect to have sexual and social access to women as one of many 
job perks, and many women, especially black women, cannot estab- 


lish authority with male coworkers or artists in the business until 
they are backed up by male superiors. This is across musical 

To ask these corporations to act as cultural gate keepers on mat- 
ters of sexism without asking them to make a serious commitment 
to creating work environments that are not abusive and oppressive 
to women is impractical and hypocritical. 

What can we do? 

First, mass media outlets, public schools, churches, government 
offices all need to be challenged into opening a dialogue about per- 
vasive and oppressive sexual conditions in their own institutions 
and in society more generally. They need to be strongly encouraged 
and rewarded for facilitating more frank discussion about sexist 
practice and courtship rituals. 

Second, public schools should be used to involve young people in 
this project. Schools are an especially promising place for attacking 
the logic that underwrites sexist ideas, words, and actions. In to- 
days elementary and secondary schools especially, the current de- 
valuing by omission of black women's histories and contributions 
and the specific ways black women are oppressed must be cor- 

Third, rather than having hearings in isolated ways like this, I 
think we should hold more forums in black communities and dedi- 
cate them to analyzing the history and the contemporary crisis of 
sexism against black women specifically and think about ways to 
revise these terms of gender identity training. Teachers, research- 
ers, school administrators, activists, community leaders, and young 
men and women should ail play a role in sharing ideas and infor- 
mation and in listening to the ideas of others. 

Mrs. Collins. Your time has expired. I am sure that whatever 
else you wanted to mention will come out in the question and an- 
swer session, Dr. Rose. 

Mr. Evans, I wonder if you would tell us about your experience 
with the theory of violence and language in the school system, 

Mr. Evans. Please repeat the question. 

Mrs. Collins. I understand that you have some thoughts about 
violence and language and how it impacts the school system. 

Mr. Evans. Yes. I believe that it is important for a person in my 
position or persons who work in a school to listen to and have 
standards for what is appropriate in terms of discussion between 
and among students, be that formal in a classroom or informal in 
the halls, so I think we have to set standards for how students talk 
to one another, speak to one another, as well as how staff, teachers, 
communicate with students, and vice versa. 

I think it is naive — or inappropriate, I should say, not naive — I 
think it is inappropriate for us to just simply allow certain lan- 
guage to go on and say well, it is kids, or that's the way they talk 
these days, without setting some kind of firm standard. I believe 
that if you allow that to continue, that, as Allport I think indicated 
40 years ago, that then sets a climate for the next step, and that 
is, if I can say something negative and dehumanize someone, then 
there is no problem with separating from them, pushing them out, 
and then if that is OK, it then becomes OK to physically attack 


them, and then you get the most extreme form of extermination, 
as he pointed out. 

Mrs. Collins. Ms. Riley, you state that as we discussed gangsta 
rap, you hope we will also look at the conditions that gave rise to 
gangsta rap. Now Flavor Unit has given a lot of exposure to 
gangsta rappers, and I am wondering if you are in a position to tell 
us what your company has done to address these ills that seem to 
plague our community. 

Ms. Riley. Is that your opinion, or is that a fact that Flavor Unit 
has given rise to gangsta rappers? 

Mrs. Collins. No. I am asking you. I understand that Flavor 
Unit has given a lot of exposure to gangsta rappers. Do you know 
whether or not Flavor Unit has given exposure to gangsta rappers? 

Ms. Riley. Yes, we have an artist that has been exposed as a, 
quote, unquote, gangsta rapper. 

Mrs. Collins. Has your company done anything to address the 
ills that plague our communities? 

Ms. Riley. Well, that artist has now been moved to a new label. 

The language — I am not sure if it has changed or not, but we 
have a diverse roster of artists. I mean we go from R&B, shy, to 
a Queen Latifah, to a gangsta rapper, to have a different — and to 
be different, so that whoever wants to listen to a gangsta rapper 
listens to a gangsta rapper; whoever wants to listen to a shy, they 
listen to a shy. 

Mrs. Collins. Do you think that recording studios should be re- 
cording lyrics, music with lyrics, that are highly offensive at young 
people — ^by young people, I mean teenagers and kids who are even 
younger listen to it? 

Ms. Riley. Well, rap lyrics alone^I mean I don't think a studio 
has any choice. You said — a recording studio gets paid a budget to 
have this artist come in and record. 

Mrs. Collins. Is that what Flavor Unit is, a recording studio 

Ms. Riley. No. We are a management company and a record 

Mrs. Collins. And a record label. 

Ms. Riley. I work for the management company. 

Mrs. Collins. OK. Would those who work for the label, would 
they have anything to say about whether or not the lyrics would 
be highly offensive? 

Ms. Riley. I can't speak for them, but I would suppose they 
would, yes. That the A&R person is signing an artist — then yes, 
they would have something to say about it. 

Mrs. Collins. Do you condone offensive rap language? 

Ms. Riley. No. 

Mrs. Collins. Dr. Rose, in your testimony you say that abusive 
and misogynistic language in contemporary popular culture is part 
of a much larger, very complex process of devaluing and oppressing 
women in American society. I want you to explain that a little fur- 
ther for us, please. 

Ms. Rose. I will do the best I can in the time we have. 

We tend to think of popular culture as a place where offensive 
acts come from, and it is very hard to think about how those acts 
operate in the popular culture as part of other kinds of relation- 


ships. Black women have long been in very oppressive cir- 
cumstances in this country not only economically, physically, emo- 
tionally, economically; all forms of disenfranchisement speak to our 
history. So I am not, in that sense, making a separation from the 
popular culture. 

I think popular culture is part of this larger process, and I think 
when we think about what goes on in that space, we have to look 
at the larger history and the way in which our educational process 
doesn't necessEirily rewrite some of that history properly. 

Mrs. Collins. Thank you. 

Mr. Steams. 

Mr. Stearns. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. 

Let me first compliment all the witnesses for coming. 

I know you came on your own time and expense, and we appre- 
ciate your taking the time here. 

I would like to get back to sort of the basic question that I have 
asked all the panelists, and that is, Don Cornelius, the host of Soul 
Train, has advocated a more stringent system of record labeling 
than the current parental advisory. 

I would like to ask each of you, how do you feel about his pro- 
posal? If you could answer it very quickly, yes or no, with a few 
explanation, that would be helpful, and I will start with Mr. Evans. 

Mr. Evans. My feeling, I think there is a precedent with the 
movie ratings, and my information from my students is that 
doesn't work in essence, that 13 and 14 and 15-year-old children 
can go to an R-rated movie with very little prohibition. I think if 
a more stringent policy is going to be instituted, you have to look 
at how it is going to be enforced, and if it is unenforceable, then 
I wouldn't be in favor of it. Then it becomes h3T)ocritical. 

Mr. Stearns. Ms. Riley. 

Ms. Riley. Going back to what the younger people said earlier, 
like Mr. Evans just said, and I have seen it happen, just like the 
movies or what is on TV, the more you tell someone not to listen 
to it or this is explicit, the more they are going to listen to it, and 
I mean I see 12 and 13 -year-olds going to R-rated movies. I live in 
New York City where I see children going to X-rated movies. I 
mean there has got to be a different way if that is the way you are 
thinking about regulating it. 

Mr. Stearns. Dr. Kelley. 

Mr. Kelley. Yes, I agree. I don't think it will make much of a 
difference, and I think that in asking the question we should ex- 
tend our vision a little bit, because we have to ask the same ques- 
tion about literature. Do we put labels on William Burroughs' po- 
etry, for example? Do we put labels on many of the important 
ethnographies by Roger Abrams, like "Deep Down In The Jungle", 
or Bruce Jackson's "Get Your Arse In The Water And Swim Like 
Me", which is in a lot of major both public and university libraries? 
All these have profanity, and I think that we need to make deci- 
sions about what purpose it would serve. 

I agree with all the speakers that it won't help anything and the 
real problem, which I am glad this committee assembled, really is 
about how to reduce sexism in American society. 

Ms. Rose. I think it would be actually much more effective to 
consider analyzing the content of what it is we find disturbing in 


the communities. If we make space for talking about, say, for ex- 
ample, what would be the equivalent of what someone might label 
an X-rated rap record or some other kind of record, what would be 
that content about, let's analyze what is problematic about it, let's 
not just assume what is offensive and how we feel as logical, be- 
cause, first of all, we wouldn't all agree on what that would be, so 
we should have more conversation about that and analyze what is 
going on there, educate people about a lot of what Mr. Evans was 
speaking about, about behavior, actions actually create dialogue 
where people feel empowered to talk about what is wrong with cer- 
tain images. 

Second, counterspeech. I really think the best way to deal with 
certain kinds of abusive speech is with counterspeech and to create 
a kind of public positive space for that kind of address. I mean 
what would we do with "Birth of a Nation", again? This issue of 
dealing with a film that is both incredibly sophisticated technically 
and an incredible artistic achievement and profoundly racist. It is 
not either art or abusive creativity, it is both, and we have to be 
honest, open, and deal with that. We can't simply sticker it and 
hide it, not put it in the Library of Congress. We have to have it 
and talk about it. It is part of our lives. We have to be honest and 
deal with it. 

So I think censoring or, you know, creating grading scales is not 
going to change any of that. I think we have to actually approach 
it in a much more theoretical way. 

Mr. Stearns. With a counterculture language. 

Ms. Rose. Counterspeech, yes. 

Mr. Stearns, Counterspeech. 

You were kind enough to send the majority your book, "Black 
Noise", but the minority, we didn't get a copy. 

Ms. Rose. I have some with me. I would be happy to give it to 

Mr. Stearns. Thank you. 

In listening to your testimony, you said this statement, and I just 
thought I would ask the panelists about it, because the presuppo- 
sitions that you have are important for us to understand, and this 
is your statement, and I would like to read it. It says, "Few popular 
analyses of rap sexism seems willing to confront the fact that sex- 
ual and institutional control over and abuse of women is a crucial 
component of developing a heterosexual masculine identity." Do 
you want to explain that? 

Ms. Rose. I thought you were asking them to expand on that. 
Yes, I think — I thought my time was up already. 

Mrs. Collins. His time is up, yours isn't. 

Ms. Rose. Oh, OK. Should I answer it? 

Mrs. Collins. Sure. 

Ms. Rose. OK. That bell has got me trained. 

I think we are very naive about the kinds of assumptions that 
young men make about what it means to become young men and 
how much — I am sorry? 

Mr. Stearns. Is this applicable to one culture, or you think this 
is universal? 

Ms. Rose. I think this is American culture in general, absolutely. 
I just saw two nights ago "Dazed and Confused", a film about the 


seventies and adolescent culture— white suburban, adolescent cul- 
ture — and you know what I was struck by, was the way in which 
their representation of teen male adolescent culture was mostly 
around how to get sexual access to girls. This was what adolescent 
boys were basically spending most of their social time to figure out 
in their social time, besides sports, in this film. 

Now in lots of studies in sociological fields, it has been clearly 
documented that young men learn how to be men by learning how 
to be in control and to be powerful. The only way you can be in 
control, run families, run your life in the workplace, give orders 
tell people what to do, is to have people to control. ' 

Now, once you have a patriarchal structure, then you use it via 
a number of systems— through language, through resources, 
through attitudes, through physical presence. As a woman on the 
street, I can't describe to you the extraordinary pressure I feel 
when approaching certain kinds of public spaces and what that 
means to me as a woman. Now none of those individuals nec- 
essarily have to say anything, this is learned, this is a longer proc- 


Again, not everyone acts out abusively as a result in aggressive 
explicit ways, that is not what I am saying, but I think it is a fun- 
damental facet of what it means to move from a boy into a man 
and if we don't confront that dynamic and say being masculine 
does not mean being a military, you know, hero, not being Tom 
Cruise, not being John Wayne— I mean let let's look at the heroes 
that we have constructed in dominant American culture and I 
think we will see some of that. 

Mr. Stearns. Dr. Kelley, I am trying to understand the pre- 
supposition that she has used in her opening statement. I am iust 
basically finding out if you agree with what she has indicated 

Mr. Kelley. Oh, I absolutely agree, and some of this is actually 
laid out "^ 

Mr. Stearns. And it goes across all cultures'? 

Mr. Kelley. Oh, absolutely. I just laid this out in my presen- 

i°?u . T^^T^^ ^^^^' ^^^^^ ^s ^hy I suggested at the end, the 
part that 1 didnt get to talk about was, we need to begin to under- 
stand male socialization, and to do that and do it seriously requires 
a kind of study that has as sort of resources that, say, the Kemer 
Commission report did in the late sixties to study sexism, to study 
gender relationships among men and women across the board be- 
cause when you asked the question earlier about the demographics 
ot the rap audience, I mean it is not an accident that it is not all 
black males who purchase this music. 

A lot of young white teenagers in Ann Arbor where I live right 
now, every time I walk down the street, 9 out of 10 times it ii a 
young white male who is listening to Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dog 
extremely loud in a nice BMW or whatnot, whereas many of the 
r^^? ^^can Americans who are at the University of Michigan 
;!f 1 offensive, ironically, that they play their music so loud, Ind 
so the roles m terms of the public imagination are reversed 

«nfl?,-7fii''1-%T c° ^°^ °^ ^°?^ ^* ^°^i^ relations and social roles 
v^thin all of U.S. society and to do it seriously rather than allowing 
rap lyncs to take responsibility for the way we live across genera- 


Ms. Riley. I agree with her. 

Like I said in my last statement, lines of communication, I be- 
lieve, have to start at home. There are a lot — and I deal with them 
every day. I have artists that solicit me with their music. I mean 
I listen to rap music, I listen to jazz, I listen to everything, and I 
used to be a rap artist, and being a rap artist propelled me into 
this industry. I didn't want to do it any more, or whatever. 

But I see a lot of the backgrounds of my artists that I am dealing 
with now that have been through — males; I deal with male art- 
ists — that have been through changes, and most of them, they are 
venting through their music, through their lyrics. I mean some art- 
ists used to vent through maybe, you know, being on the streets^ 
selling drugs, or something like that, and then someone came to 
them or someone dealt with them through another means of com- 
munication, and that is how they vent through their society prob- 

To me, this is a bigger issue, this needs to be addressed through 
more than just this committee. 

Mr. Stearns. Mr. Evans. 

Mr. Evans. I just want to make one additional statement, and 
that is, I think we have to broaden the examination not only of how 
males are socisdized in this society but how females are socialized, 
and we need to have — I agree with Dr. Rose — a really broad dia- 
logue on the whole socialization process, because the rules that 
apply now in 1994 in terms of how to resolve the problems of vio- 
lence are very, very different than in 1964 or 1954 when Allport 
wrote his book. I think in many cases we are looking for old solu- 
tions to very new problems. We need more unconventional or dif- 
ferent kinds of solutions to the problems we have. 

Violence has been a part of America since our inception, and we 
have to deal with that as a culture. The fact that we had in this 
country, I think last year, 13,000 homicides as compared to many 
other industrialized nations is something that we have to deal with 
as a culture. There is something about us that says that is a way 
to solve problems, and indeed it is not an effective way to solve 

Mr. Stearns. Thank you. 

Mrs. Collins. Well, we certainly thank you for your testimony 
today, as we did the others who testified before us. We may have 
some questions for you in writing, and if so, we would appreciate 
if you would return those responses to us within 5 working days. 
Thank you very much for coming. 

This hearing is adjourned. 

[Whereupon, at 12:23 p.m., the hearing was adjourned.] 

[The following statement was received for the record:] 

Statement of George Lipsitz 

I appreciate the opportunity to present my views to the subcommittee on the issue 
of '"gangster rap" music. I speak as a professor of Ethnic Studies at the University 
of California, San Diego, and as the author of 4 books and more than 40 articles 
on U.S. history and culture. But I also speak from my 5 years of experience teaching 
college courses at a maximum security prison in Texas, and as someone who has 
been studying young people and their cultural practices in Southern Cedifomia cities 
over the past 5 years. 

I can understand and appreciate the committee's concerns about the abusive lan- 
guage, violent imagery, and disrespect for women expressed in the lyrics of some 


rap songs. I am quite troubled myself by the pervasive eroticization of violence the 
open misogyny and the abusive tone that runs rampant through our culture^in- 
cluchng through some genres of rap music. We desperately need positive educational 
ettorts, structural changes in our economy, and collective cultural mobilization to 
create eouity, equal opportunity, and mutual respect between men and women 

But I believe that it is wrong and counter-productive to single out gangster rap 
music for ^scussion without addressing the films, television programs, and adver- 
tisements that are equally culpable in fomenting misogyny, sexism, and aggression 
I believe that it is wrong and counter-productive to complain about misogynist im- 
ages without also taking concrete actions against the misogynist practices that leave 
males and females with very different relationships to education, employment cred- 
it, housing, the law, and nearly every other area of endeavor in our society. I believe 
that It 18 wrong and counterproductive to analyze gangster rap music in isolation 
trom the broader cultural and economic circumstances of unemployment and police 
surveillance facing the young people who create and consume it. 

I have spent many hours trying to channel the energy and imagination of prison 
inmates and inner city youth along what I believe to be more constructive lines But 
1 have learned that it is a mistake to talk without listening, to assume that their 
stances do not contain a grain of truth or that they do not serve important purposes 
tor thein^ 1 believe that using this public forum merely to discourage the music in- 
dustry from producing gangster rap songs will only increase the appeal of these 
songs among the young. It will encourage the journalists, politicians, and social sci- 
entists who have demomzed inner city youths in order to hide the social disintegra- 
tion caused by two decades of neoconservative economics and politics. Most impor- 
tant. It will forfeit a positive opportunity to enlist young people in collective efforts 
to transtorm themselves and their society because it demonstrates a total lack of 
comprehension and consideration for their concerns and their culture Starting a 
discussion by attempting to suppress the other side will do httle to repair the 
intergenerational ruptures that this issue exposes so forcefully 

What kind of world do our children live in? In Los Angeles at the time of the 1992 
rebelhon, nearly 20 percent of the city's 16 to 19 year-olds (40,000 people) had no 
^o°o ^-^v ^f®. "°^ ^" ^^^°°^- '^^^ number of children living in poverty increased by 
2.2 million between 1979 and 1989. Among latinos child poverty reached 32 percent- 
among blacks it reached 43.7 percent. Almost 10 out of every 1,000 babies bom in 
the United States die in infancy, a rate worse than 16 other nations. Black children 
die at twice the national average —18.2 per 1,000 births. In south central Los Ange- 
les, 22 black and latino infants out of every 1,000 die shortly after birth. Twenty- 
three percent of male workers between the ages of 18 and 24 received wages below 
the poverty Ime in 1979, but by 1990 the number had climbed to 43 percent The 
percentage of full time workers earning less than a subsistence wage increased from 
12 percent m 1979 to 18 percent in 1990. Between 1965 and 1990, black family in- 
come tell by 50 percent; black youth unemployment quadrupled while white youth 
unemployment remained static. 

Unwanted as citizens, underfunded as students, and unemployed as workers mi- 
Ti^r^rrSJ ^^^"^ wanted only by the criminal justice system. In Los Angeles, more 
than 50,000 young people have been arrested and tagged as "gang members" in the 
misguided and counterproductive "Operation Hammer." Harvard University econo- 
mist Richard Freeman estimates that 35 percent of all black men between the ages 
of 15 and 35 were arrested at some point in 1989. Black Americans make up only 
cL^^^^AfA^ Nations drug users, but account for 43 percent of felony offender 
convicted for <^g offenses. The proportion of blacks and whites committing violent 
T^tl '""flf ^'^^^ 32 per 1,000 for blacks and 31 per 1,000 for whites. But the 
fi!fl, K bracks arrested for aggravated assault in that year amounted to 3 times 
the number of whites arrested for the same crimes. 

In slavery tunes, the old people used to say that you can hide the fire, but what 
M-e you going to do with the smoke? We can try to prevent young people from hear- 

f^Jr^^i^l ""^P' ^""^ ^^^^ ^^} ^^ °^^^ t^^^ ^" return? Where can tKey take their 
aneer and horror over what deindustrialization and the abandonment of the civil 

Sldihn1fv"«,^nn^''^ ^°"^ ^ ^^^''" neighborhoods? One reason why rap artists have 
t^^fv. fX AA^ ^° ""^^y y"'?"^ P®°P^e ^s because they appear to he telling the 
«^H .nmr^^ addressing the realities of inner city life in a way that the news media 
f^;Ia T^^*^ 1^^^^"^ ^-^^"^ "°^ ^° ^°- What alternatives do we offer to the heroic 
W,rf«n/^^"^ rap unages which simply adapt to local circumstances the vio- 
hJ^^ A "liTIT"'^ ^^^^ ^^ ^^ P"^^^ '"^ "mainstream" action adventure films star- 
SpI«1^« 11. Schwarznegger, Bruce WUlis, Jean Claude Van Damme, and Steven 
mmk rivf T=^ff f^?:,^T ""T^ misogynist or more violent than heavy metal or 
fn ?hi2^?f f '^ "Til ^^^?^ '"^.^^! ^^° ^^^ ^ be denied the sadistic pleasures sold 
m these staples of the culture industry? Are black women treated wiSi respect and 

154 3 9999 05982 341 7 

dignity outside of gangster rap? For that matter, what constitutes gangster rap? Is 
Ice-T a rapper or a heavy metal artist? Are the metaphors used by PubUc Enemy, 
Ice-T, and ke Cube in songs that critique the gang hfe to be suppressed along with 
the songs that glamorize this life? In the past, politicians and journalists have dem- 
onstrated little more than their own ignorance of popular culture when they have 
attempted to single out songs for criticism, because they have opportunistically at- 
tackea the most positive and socially conscious rappers instead of the most vicious 
and sadistic ones. 

Gangster rap is one facet of a broader hip hop culture that answers a culture of 
surveiflance with a counterculture of conspicuous display. Young people in the hip 
hop culture constitute their own bodies, gnetto walls, and city streets as sites for 
performance and play. Defamed and despised by the dominant culture, they discover 
ways to contest their erasure, to write themselves back into history by using tech- 
nology, performance, and oral testimony to throw out a style that calls attention to 
themselves and their world. Hemmed in by the spatial constraints of the post-indus- 
trial city, they reconfigure space with placas ana graffiti tags, and they restructure 
time by sampling music from the past as part of the present. Rap music, grafBti 
writing, and car customizing turn consumers into producers while mocking the 
prominence of commodities in American culture. Young people in hip hop drop their 
family names and invent new identities for themselves that mock the world that 
disdains them, as evidence in the names of rappers like Public Enemy, Special Ed, 
Arrested Development, and Above the Law. 

In their desire to be seen, to wield the symbolic currency of American popular cul- 
ture, some rappers do deal heavily in misogyny, abusive language, and eroticized 
brutality. How could it be otherwise in a population that increasingly experiences 
incarceration in all-male penal institutions rife with violence and antagonisms of 
every kind? But in a subciilture that makes an art form out of answering oack, they 
are most effectively rebuked from within — by female rappers like Queen Latifan 
who celebrate the accomplishments of black women or by politicized male rappers 
like Public Enemy and KRS-1 of BDP who use their art to build affirmative identi- 
fication with collective struggle. To encourage record companies or radio stations to 
abandon gangster rap will only drive it underground and make it more lucrative. 
It will hide the fire, but do nothing about the smoke. 

If the same effort required to publicize the alleged evils of gangster rap went to- 
ward public meetings that encouraged youiig people to speak about their experi- 
ences and to formulate their own solutions, we would be supporting a level of edu- 
cation and mobilization that might address the pervasive proDlems that loom behind 
this whole discussion. We could use the knowledge and insights and energy of young 
people instead of suppressing them. I don't want to convey the impression that I 
think that the fans of gangster rap are idealists and optimists, that all they need 
is a helping hand to become constructive citizens. Quite the contrary. My experi- 
ences teaching in a prison and my interviews with young people over the past 5 
years have exposed me to an unrelenting cynicism among young people; many of 
them expect the worst of everjdhing and everybody. But this is a view they have 
learned in our society, it reflects the reality they have known in the 1980's and 
1990's. I think this is why conversations between the civil rights generation and to- 
days young people are so diflQcult, why so often we seem to be talking past each 
other. People who witnessed the transformations of the 1960's witnessed terrible 
atrocities, out they had the advantage of seeing ordinary people take history into 
their own hands and bring about some changes. 

I think the gap between generations today is enormous. But it is, in my judgment, 
a problem of poverty rather than a problem of black culture. It has close parallels 
to what happened between generations among working class and poor people during 
the Great Depression of the 1930's. Writing about the plays of Clifford Odets, Robert 
Warshow described the gap the depression opened up between a father and his chil- 
dren as follows: "For his part, he was always disappointed in his children, and his 
sense of disappointment was often the only thing ne could clearlv communicate to 
them. He succeeded at least in becoming a reproach to them, and the bitterness of 
the personal conflict which ensued was aggravated by the fact that they could ever 
quite see fi-om what he derived his superiority or what it was he held against them. 
The children took hold of what seemed to them the essential point — that they were 
living in a jungle. It would not be accurate to say that they failed to understand 
the rest; so far as they were concerned, the rest was not there to see, it had retired 
into the mind. They tri-^d to act reasonably. Every day they could see the basic 
truth; without a dollar you don't look the world in tiie eye .... Their economic 
strength comes from their ability to act as the situation demands even though the 
situation is abhorrent to them. But the gap between the moral man and the require- 
ments of reality has seemed to them so wide that they have been able to function 


successfully only by imposing cynicism on themselves as a kind of discipline. They 
have gone further than most in the acceptance of reality, and this is perhaps the 
strongest kind of subversion — to take capitalism without sugar." 

This is the cynicism of poverty; it is also the cynicism of gangster rap. It is ready 
to give measure for measure to its enemies. But condemning gangster rap without 
offering opportunities for young people to address and redress their grievances only 
plays into its hands. It will add to its prestige by showing the outside world to be 
as ruthless, unforgiving, and unyielding as the gangster rappers suspect. It gives 
them something to be against, but nothing to be for. A better way is to not take 
the bait, to not scapegoat a few artists and their audiences for the social disintegra- 
tion we are now experiencing, but rather to build a coaUtion with young people, 
using what they alreadv know about the world to battle together for a redistribution 
of wealth and power that will provide a compelling alternative to gangsterism in 
music and in social life. 


82-668 (1601 

ISBN 0-16-044889-1 

9 780160"448898